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From: Adam Stephanides <adamsteph@earthlink.net>
Subject: Re: (whorl) [SPOILERS] In Green's Jungles, first thoughts
Date: Sun, 23 Jul 2000 10:29:44 

Dan Rabin wrote:
> Spoiler space courtesy of Christopher Culver:
> It's amazing, when I think about it after
> finishing the book, that Wolfe makes a bunch of characters sit around
> on the brink of war telling each other stories for many chapters.

Of course, we don't (I didn't, anyway) feel any sense of urgency to find
out about the war, since it comes out of left field in the story as a
whole, and since Horn has very little invested in it.  It feels more
daring to me that Horn's adventures on Green, which are what I had
expected IGJ to be about, are told only in fragments, and the bulk of
them are summarized in the eight pages of Horn's second story.  My guess
is that by doing this, Wolfe is foregrounding the act of narration, as
he frequently does elsewhere: the events on Green were so traumatic that
Horn can't bring himself to describe them at length.

> Behind the bumbling incompetent narrator Horn, who's always
> remembering something he should have said already, is the ruthlessly
> analytical Wolfe, who knows *exactly* the conceptual order in which
> he wants events to be revealed.

In having Horn, Mora and Fava play their "guessing game," it seems to me
that Wolfe is teasingly symbolizing the game he is playing with his

> I would
> hazard a guess that there's a third important progression to be tied
> up:  Horn must understand by the end that he *has* brought Silk.

Now that we know how Horn got into Silk's body (assuming it is Silk's)
the question I asked about IGJ remains: why doesn't Horn know he's in
Silk's body?  Why doesn't he recognize whose body is in the grave
(assuming it's the obvious person, whose name I'm hiding from accidental
readers of this post)?  Even if he doesn't recognize Silk's body, didn't
he meet anyone on the Whorl who addressed him as Silk?  Of course, maybe
he does know he's in Silk's body, and is hiding the fact from his
readers (while leaving obvious clues).  But then why was he continuing
the search for Silk at the start of OBW?

> Certainly it's becoming clear that Horn/Silk is an extraordinary
> leader who behaves much like Silk under pressure: brilliant, but
> wants to resign his position the whole time he's bringing victory.

The Horn of OBW resembles the non-apotheosized Severian: someone who
feels strongly, suffers greatly, and is very human, to the point of
being unsympathetic.  The Horn of IGJ is much more like Silk in more
than a physical sense; he's clearly a good man, and a dispenser of
wisdom and good counsel, while humbly insisting all the time that he is
no such thing.  I have to admit that as a protagonist I prefer the first
model to the second.
> We should have some very beautiful strangeness lying in wait for us
> in _Return to the Whorl_.

It's clear now that revealing the titles of all three books in advance
was a trap set by Wolfe for the reader.  After reading OBW, I naturally
assumed that the other two books would be about the Green and Whorl
legs, respectively, of Horn's search for Silk.  But little of IGJ takes
place on Green, and much of what does occurs on a subsequent visit.  In
light of this, we can't assume either that the Whorl referred to in
"Return to the Whorl" is the Long Sun Whorl, or that if it is, the
"return" referred to is that of Horn's quest for Silk.


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