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From: Dan Parmenter <dan@lec.com>
Subject: (urth) re: Palaemon != Severian; _TBOTNS-1_
Date: Tue, 5 May 1998 12:07:52 

From: David_Lebling@avid.com

>>re: Dan Parmenter, on Palaemon = Severian0

> I don't think I buy that one.  It's more in the nature of the scene
> in the typical coming-of-age story where the older mentor reveals,
> usually when the protagonist is in some hot water, that he too had
> trouble with the law/guild/church/whatever when he was a sprout.  Of
> course, being part of a Wolfe story, it isn't presented quite that
> straightforwardly.

I never said that Palaemon *was* Severian0 but rather that Palaemon
could be thought of as a predecessor to Severian, someone who trod a
similar path, but didn't quite make it as far.  Remember, the scene
that I cited was of Winnoc (the Pelerine slave) recounting being
whipped by Palaemon.  I think it's significant that the slave credits
Palaemon with having sent him on the path of the straight and narrow
(admittedly, as a slave) and when Severian tells him that Palaemon's
advice was not part of the torture, he thanks him for the knowledge,
another example of Severian's having done good inadvertently.  The
fact that the completion of the good deed involved Palaemon seems

Incidentally, Palaemon's behavior and words when he sends Severian on
his way are very odd.  First he claims that Thrax is by the sea.  Then
he tells Severian to pay attention to his good advice but remarks that
Severian would probably forget it all.  Palaemon, who we are told
elsewhere was fond of Severian for his perfect memory.

> The plot outline that Wolfe alludes to in _Castle of the Otter_ is
> probably the story of Sev1's life, as far as it goes.  Severian
> himself gives a few clues as to how Sev1 could have solved his
> dilemma, though my strong guess is that in Wolfe's original plot it
> wouldn't have come off quite so easily as Sev2 imagines.  Thus, I
> disagree with mantis; I think Sev1 indeed met and loved Thecla in
> his own limited way, but did not have the, um, benefit of the
> analeptic alzabo to bring her to life later in his own mind.  Or,
> even more probably, as Sev1 didn't have the Claw, his memories of
> Thecla wouldn't last, which Wolfe points out later in the story.

But Severian1 presumably had the total recall.  And besides, Severian
does eventually get the picture that he doesn't need the claw to do
what he does.

I'll admit that my hypothesis of Palaemon as the Severian of the
never-written novella is far-fetched, but I'm still somewhat fond of
the idea of Palaemon as a predecessor, not in the "timeline" sense but
in the sense that there's no way that any Severian would ever learn
mercy without Palaemon's actions.  Severian receives a lot of help
along the way, why not the direct help of a former teacher?  If
Severian is truly the sum of not only his own experience but the
people who influenced him (and who still ive on as Thecla does or as
aquastors), then Palaemon is simply one of the many people who
influenced him and who in some sense lives on in him.  This is really
not a very controversial observation.

But what about his odd comments?  And where DID he get Terminus Est?

BTW, there's at least one passage that suggests that the first
Severian may not have even been a torturer:

Book IV, Ch. 36:

"He too was reared by the torturers, I think."

The "I think" suggests uncertainty, but I won't dwell on it.


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

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