FIND in
<--prev V11 next-->

From: Peter Westlake <peter@harlequin.co.uk>
Subject: Re: (urth) Suzanne Delage
Date: Thu, 14 May 1998 12:27:12 +0100

At 22:23 1998-05-13 +0000, Damien Broderick wrote:
>As I was reading this morning - reading the URTH list's digest on my
>computer screen, I should explain - I was struck by the deluge of posts,
>deliberately left unread until now, concerning the story `Suzanne Delage'.
>It occurred to me to wonder about this thread.  Living all my life, as I
>have, in a genre comprising less than a hundred thousand stories, I had not
>even been dimly aware of this particular tale.

Masterful! :-)

 Nevertheless, it is worth attending to Ms Kidd's insiderly comment:
>`His short story hereunder is a den of iniquities; no one else could have
>written it.'
>I think this is likely.  It is less a madeleine than a reverse veronica, a
>kind of Turin test.  Here are some incidental, glancing reflections:
>Suzanne is not a vampire, I think, nor is she her own daughter and mother,
>not quite.  I do think she might have no use for men.  Is it implausible
>that those exhausting trips taken by Madame Delage and Mother, so eagerly
>repeated, were spent as often under the quilt as on it?  Was it Mother who
>later scissored out the photos of the young woman who (perhaps) - like
>daughter, like mother, like grandmother, faithful mirror of the flesh - so
>resembled her lost lover?  Why did the bitter old neighbor widow so detest
>Mrs Delage?  Had she been displaced in the beautiful friend's affections
>(or those of someone looking quite similar - wait, wait for it) by other,
>younger women, Mother being merely the latest?
>Why should this be the occasion of retrograde amnesia?  The conjecture
>above might be the root of a complex Oedipal agony of (as it were) biblical
>proportions.  As Adam noted of this confessedly (or avowedly) dull
>small-town dog:
><  "extraordinary experience he refers to is not
>necessarily supernatural, merely a "dislocation of all we expect from
>nature and probability."  The second is that the person undergoing such an
>experience forgets it because "he has ... been so conditioned to consider
>himself the most mundane of creatures." (361)  This is significant because
>the narrator does indeed "consider himself the most mundane of creatures."
>He calls his life "dull" and is "afraid [he] bored" both his wives (362). >
>The provenance of the luscious 15 year old daughter of the absent Suzanne?
>Mantis provided the key allusion to Proust, a writer for whom sexual
>evasions and masks were not unknown.  But here's another possible layering
>(if we are prepared to accept that Gene Wolfe is vatic as well as gnomic,
>the necessary premise for many of this list's entertainingly
>over-interpretative hi-jinks). You all know, of course, that Ives Delage
>(1854-1920) was the French zoologist who (as the EB tells us) `developed a
>method for culturing sea urchins following artificial fertilization of the
>eggs with chemicals'.  This might be irrelevant in the work of anyone with
>less interest in cloning and reduplication than Mr Wolfe.


I don't know which boggles the mind more - that this is a coincidence,
or that it isn't. A bit like life on other worlds.

I see that Ives Delage died soon after the height of the Spanish Flu
epidemic; but that way madness lies, I fear.


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

<--prev V11 next-->