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Date: Thu, 08 Aug 2002 15:22:50 -0500
Subject: Re: (urth) the dog-boy of Carnies Past
From: Adam Stephanides 

on 8/5/02 2:19 PM, Robert Borski at rborski@charter.net wrote:

> You're attempting to apply real-world logic here to what is essentially a
> modern retelling by Gene Wolfe of Perrault's "Cinderilla."

I don't buy this line of reasoning.  Wolfe's characters don't stop behaving
realistically just because they're in retellings of older tales (as most of
his characters seem to be).  Either Doris's story is true, in which case the
people in it must have act for plausible motives; or it is Charlie's
invention, in which case there's no reason to think Doris even exists, let
alone is Weer's daughter.  (I'm speaking in general here, not in reference
to Roy Lackey's point; there are more convincing reasons why Doris can't be
Weer's daughter.)

> I'm therefore curious as to what you (or Adam S.) believe the overall
> significance of Doris's sad history is to either the novel or the life of
> Den Weer. Does it have any relevance--typological, symbolic--or is it just
> simply tossed into the mix for sheer entertainment value, making it alone
> the dog-that-wagged-its-own-tale?

Well, Doris's tale is essentially Cinderella with an unhappy ending.  And
Weer is himself a sort of Cinderella.  Abandoned by his parents, he is taken
under the wing of a "fairy godmother" (Olivia), who enables him to meet his
"prince" (Smart).  And whatever the relationship between Smart and Weer was,
Weer does end up inheriting Smart's "kingdom."  In Doris's tale, the
"godmother's" well-intentioned intervention leads to disaster; Weer's life,
too, has not turned out happily, and the analogy suggests that Olivia may
have been, in part at least, the unintentional cause of this.

But these are just tentative ideas; I don't claim to understand the book.



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