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From: adam louis stephanides <astephan@students.uiuc.edu>
Subject: (urth) Suzanne Delage
Date: Wed, 13 May 1998 11:08:24 

On Mon, 11 May 1998 Craig Christensen wrote:

> After reading Suzanne Delange I looked for Spanish Influenza information,   
> to date when the characters were in high school.  Of course I was   
> surprised to learn that the Spanish Influenza occurred in 1918 during the   
> first World War.  This certainly doesn't seem to be the correct period   
> for the characters' high school years.

I think it could be.  According to Krug's _The Shaping of the American
High School, 1880-1920_, extracurricular activities of the type the
narrator describes were found in that period; and I don't see any other
details which are inconsistent with it.  (The reference to a
"fundamentalist church" might be a problem, since the term may not have
been in use then, though I haven't looked it up; but this could be the
narrator himself using anachronistic terminology.)  This would mean, of
course, that the "present" of the story was itself in the past when it was
published, but I see no problem with that.  In fact, the initial reference
to "those somewhat political, somewhat phiosophical, somewhat historical
books which can now be bought by the pound each month" doesn't seem to
really apply to the late-1970s publishing scene.

> Hamlet?  And second, why the long rambling description of quilt   
> collecting?   In such a compact story it must have significance.

Good question.  I took it as furthering the characterization of the
narrator as boring, as well as indicating a possible source for this trait
in his mother's conventionality; but it may well have some more specific
significance which escapes me at present.

In response to some posts of William H. Ansley's which I had deleted:
the "many decades ago" bit (363 in ES) is indeed hard to explain.  To
me "many" is certainly more than three, and even more than five--I
wouldn't say that Wolfe had written many novels with Severian as
protagonist--and as William points out, for Suzanne to be 65 now is
already pushing the outer limits of probability (although Damien's theory
would account for that).  Of course, I use this to support my own
theory: not only has the narrator repressed the events to the extent of
suppressing that it was he that tore out the pages, but he pushes the
tearing-out back in time to an impossible extent.

As for the italics in the recounting of the "idea," they're that way in
the hardcover.  I don't think it's a typo.  The narrator immediately
forgets about the forgetting, so to speak: his explanation of why the idea
is correct ignores that part of it, and he also ignores it when trying to
recall an extraordinary event in his own life.  I can tie this in with my
theory too, but I won't belabor the point.

Damien Broderick's post, which is in the archives but not yet in my
mailbox was fascinating.  Assuming that the comment about the "den of
iniquity" reflected inside information and not just the editor having
nothing else to say, it confirms that there is *something* under the
surface.  While the Ivan Delage cross-reference is indeed suggestive,
though, I don't think I can buy the theory as yet; now if you could tie it
in with those quilts...


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

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