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From: mark millman <millman@us.ncipher.com>
Subject: Re: (whorl) These are the jokes, pt. 2; more inhumi mysteries
Date: Thu, 13 Apr 2000 15:01:53 

At 09:20 am -0700 on Thursday 13 April 2000, Adam Stephanides 
<adamsteph@earthlink.net> wrote:

> There is very little humor in OBW (a trait it shares with most of
> Wolfe's books), but a while ago Kieran Cleary posted one hu-
> morous bit. Here are two more.
> 1) On p. 126 Horn refers to the burials alive of inhumi practiced 
> in Gaon as "inhumations."  I don't know whether this is an actual 
> word meaning "burials alive" or a coinage by Wolfe on analogy 
> with "exhumation."  Either way it's a pun, if a grim one.

It is a grim pun, but it may not be quite as bad as Adam suggests.  
"Inhumation" means "a burial", but doesn't imply that it's a living 
burial.  Merriam-Webster on-line (at http://www.m-w.com) gives:

   Main Entry: in·hume
   Pronunciation: in-'hyüm
   Function: transitive verb
   Inflected Form(s): in·humed; in·hum·ing
   Etymology: probably from French inhumer, from Medieval 
        Latin inhumare, from Latin in- + humus earth -- more at 
   Date: 1604
   - in·hu·ma·tion /"in-hyü-'mA-sh&n/ noun

and the 1913 _Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary_ (at 

   Inhumation (Page: 764)
   In`hu*ma"tion (?), n. [Cf. F. inhumation.] 
   1. The act of inhuming or burying; interment. 
   2. (Old Chem.) The act of burying vessels in warm earth in 
       order to expose their contents to a steady moderate heat; 
       the state of being thus exposed. 
   3. (Med.) Arenation.

Neither dictionary ascribes "inhumation" a connotation of live burial, 
and I don't recall ever seeing it used that way.

> 2) [snipped, sorry]
> The passage on p. 126 in which "inhumations" are mentioned is a 
> cryptic one, in more ways than one.  First, Horn ponders: "Would 
> it be effective for us to dig up one of the recent inhumations and 
> release him to warn the others?"  Warn the others of what?  Of 
> Horn's threat to reveal Krait's secret, presumably.  But what does 
> Horn hope to accomplish by this?  We have no clue (this is before 
> the war with Han has even begun).  

I'd always thought that the inhumu released from his grave would warn
the others of the harsh treatment they'd face in Gaon.  No doubt an in-
humu forewarned could avoid capture and burial, but Horn likely hopes 
that at least some inhumi will avoid Gaon so as not to face such risks.  I
don't think that Krait's secret comes into play here.

> Then Horn briefly speculates that the inhumi may not be "natural 
> creatures," but instead may have been created by the Neighbors!  
> What does Horn know about the inhumi, or the Neighbors, that 
> leads him to entertain this possiblity even briefly?

I suspect that we won't find this out until we read _In Green's Jungles_.


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