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From: "William H. Ansley" <wansley@warwick.net>
Subject: Re: (urth) Napoleon
Date: Mon, 4 May 1998 00:57:43 

>I agree with you on the physical difficulties, and maybe the colostomy bag
>is more realistic. But I think it's perfectly common for kids (okay, maybe
>13 is a little old, but then again these were supposedly more innocent
>days, weren't they?) to think of their questions or remarks as innocuous
>and then find that they've offended more-knowing adults. As in, "Hey
>mommy, what does **** mean?"

This is possible, but my interpretation of the passage in question, which I
appended to the end of this message, is that Weer continued to repeat the
story ("as a psychological experiment") into his adult years but still felt
the remark to be innocent. There is some mild support for this later on.
When Weer is talking to Louis Gold in his study, after Sherry Gold has
persuaded Weer not to tell anyone about about her father's forged books, on
p. 226 of the Orb edition, he says:

"I'm afraid I only know the story of Bonaparte's hand, and I don't tell it
very often anymore."

>To "invariably offend," the remark would have to somewhat salacious,
>wouldn't it? How likely is it everybody would be offended by young Weer
>demystifying Napoleon's pose?

It certainly is hard to think of a remark that meets these two criteria. If
the author weren't Wolfe, I might think that he didn't have any real remark
about Napoleon's hand in mind and was just being annoyingly mysterious.
But, since it is Wolfe, I tend to think that (in addition to being
annoyingly mysterious) he does have a remark in mind that would make us all
say "Oh, of course!"

>Don't you think it's wonderful that by not telling us what Napoleon was
>supposedly doing, Wolfe has managed to keep us talking about it 23 years

It certainly is wonderful, but the time of wonders must end. 8-> I think I
have beat this thing to death and beyond, so I'll (probably) stop here.

"At first I used to tell it in the hope of satisfying curiosity (and so
obtaining those real though impalpable satifactions, sweet at any time, but
sweetest at thirteen, which accrue when we appear knowledgeable and thus,
at least by implication, effective). Later I continued it as a
psychological experiment, having observed that the innocent remark
invariably offended."

_Peace_, p. 2

William Ansley

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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