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Date: Mon, 28 Oct 2002 11:25:44 -0500 (EST)
From: Mark Millman 
Subject: Re: (urth) PEACE: trolls and troglodytes


Wolfe is saying that Peacock would have been indulging
in conspicuous consumption so as to impress the visit-
ing faculty member.  A digression is in order here:
During the nineteenth century, enterprising vendors in
large cities customarily set up booths along the main
streets on Independence Day, at which they would sell
roast suckling pig.  There are contemporary descrip-
tions of the aroma of roast pork floating over Manhat-
tan while booths lined all of Broadway.  Roast pork in
July would be both festive and, for an individual in
Peacock's financial position, likely to be a signifi-
cant expenditure--the vendors in the cities were often
farmers who were willing to spare a pig for the anti-
cipated profits, but Peacock might have to pay a con-
siderable sum to get one from a local farmer for his
own use (especially if the sucklings had already been
culled for the Fourth), and--since Olivia doesn't cook
--to have it prepared in suitable style.  These pork
dinners might be among the couple's few luxuries--Pea-
cock is, after all, envisaging them as troglodytes in
this passage (page 45 of the hardcover and Orb trade;
43 of the Berkeley paperback)--but they would clearly
have come at some cost, both in money and in stress.

Mark Millman

On Mon, 28 Oct 2002, Roy C. Lackey wrote:

> [snip]
> That sentence I mentioned is one of
> those long, convoluted ones Wolfe uses
> from time to time. Those kinds of sen-
> tences are always hard to puzzle out.
> The ending of that one has always bug-
> ged me: ". . . save when some new ar-
> rival, some promising new member of
> the faculty, was at table and the fu-
> ture of the whole establishment turned,
> as upon less than a hair, on his judge-
> ment--when they would have roast pork
> and dressing, particularly if it was
> July." Why July? In the first quarter
> of the last century food distribution
> and preservation was nothing like to-
> day, when all sorts of things may be
> had out of season. While smoked pork
> products might be found year-round in
> rural areas then, hog-slaughtering
> time was, and remains, primarily in
> the autumn. Wolfe knows this: it was
> one of the ways Severian marked the
> turning of the seasons when he was a
> boy, iirc, by fresh pork appearing on
> his plate. I don't understand what
> Wolfe was saying here.
> -Roy


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