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Date: Mon, 14 Oct 2002 16:26:23 -0700
From: Michael Andre-Driussi 
Subject: Re: (urth) PEACE: Smart

Roy C. Lackey's post on Smart.  Again, that delightful feeling of seeing
someone else write what I was on the verge of writing a week ago!

So good, we are thinking along the same lines!

However, I argued with myself before so now I'll give you the same.

First I would like to express my sense of the "EZ reading," which Roy first
brought to my attention (though I was the one who named it).  I was
building a timeline on the assumption that 1) Weer had been the responsible
prankster in the coldhouse prank, and 2) Weer was lying about the date when
it happened to obscure his role.  I had arrived at this position from
talking (perhaps too much) with others about PEACE -- it was not an
individualistic reading, and the new trick was to try and build a timeline
around it.

Roy's attitude at the time seemed to be this: First, trust the text.

Well anyway, enough of that for now.

I, too, wondered at the possibility of a murder for hire at the bottom of
the "nailed letter."  And I went through the same permutations that Roy
went through (some or maybe most I've seen other people try in informal
settings such as this).  There is a potential there, but I begin to
disbelieve it myself.

As for Smart's behavior towards Weer.  In order for a "sundering" at the
funeral, there would have to be a "togetherness" beforehand, and while the
two fellows were living under the same roof, even though they have a
quasi-father/son relationship (or maybe make that "especially because they
have a quasi-father/son relationship"), they might not be such pals at all.
In contrast to the chummy antics of the other suitors, iirc we have no
indication of the same with Smart and Weer.  So, even if there were no
other weirdness, the woman Olivia is the lynchpin that holds them in
proximity: once she is gone, they might well drift apart.  They don't go
fishing together; they do not talk about books together; etc.

Ah, but there is other weirdness!  Weer sees Olivia in the bathtub; Weer
knows about Olivia's confessions of adultry (I imagine that she told Weer
in some offhand manner ala Auntie Mame); Weer himself is a manslaughtering
little weirdo who becomes a quasi-stepson during his teenage years
(challenging period).  Smart suffers having this spy in his life, this kid
who knows all the dirty laundry since he functions as his wife's confessor,
and after the tragedy of losing his wife, Smart throws himself into his
work, where he was always most comfortable anyway.

So the simplest solution would appear to be that Smart and Weer had nothing
to say to each other, and that Weer inherited because Smart had no other
family and Weer is related by the marriage to Olivia.  (Or as Wolfe said to
Damien Broderick, something like: Weer inherited from grumpy old Smart.)

(Nevermind how the coldhouse prank may have had an effect on anything.)

The letter from Peacock might be a confession that Peacock ran down Olivia
(if we assume that it was a hit and run and nobody was ever charged).

The other thing about Smart that I've been mulling over again is how he
equates to Napoleon, and what this means to the larger text.  There is the
biography that they all read; there is the statue Olivia buys for Smart;
Smart's child-like size points to Napoleon's small stature; even Smart's
possible earlier marriage (to "Mrs. Tilly") might point to Napoleon's
marital scenario (Josephine and then Marie Louise) . . . and thus the
strange anecdote about Napoleon's hand, which Weer alludes to, a tidbit
which our dedicated fellow readers have =not= been able to find in the
biography itself, may relate directly to Smart himself rather than Napoleon.

I really should read PEACE again, soon.



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