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From: Adam Stephanides <adamsteph@earthlink.net>
Subject: Re: (whorl) [big spoiler] Narrative technique in _Return_,
Date: Sat, 10 Feb 2001 14:21:13 +0000

on 2/8/01 6:13 PM, Spectacled Bear at spectacled.bear@pobox.com wrote:

> At 10:23 2001-02-08 +0000, Adamwrote:
> ...
>> why do the
>> editors keep up the ambiguity over the protagonist's identity until almost
>> the end?  One possibility is that they don't want to admit that Horn is
>> dead, but there are a couple of problems with this: apparently Hide and Hoof
>> never did believe that the protagonist was Horn (see the start of Hoof's
>> narration on p. 337); and when the editors finally do name the protagonist,
>> they unambiguously call him Silk.
> Well, they *are* writing a book, and you must admit it reads better
> this way. It's a dramatised account, not a dry history, so I think
> they did it for the same reason as Wolfe did.

In the first place, three of the editors are from an impoverished colony,
and at least two are from a family that's not well off; the fourth is a
servant.  Under these conditions it's unlikely that any of them would have
acquired much literary sophistication.  And I don't recall any indication
that any of them had a literary bent either.  So it seems unlikely to me
that they would have been interested in the sort of games with narration
that Wolfe plays. In the second place, they're not writing a novel, they're
compiling a non-fictional account of their father (or father-in-law) and of
the man he admired more than anybody else.  Even if they had an interest in
narrative mystification, I doubt they would indulge it here.

> Another case where the editors create a
>> mystery and I don't see why: it's clear that "Horn" gives an eye to Pig, but
>> as far as I can recall this is never stated.
> You said it yourself: "it's clear". We can allow them a little
> literary licence, as long as it doesn't cause actual confusion.

I'm willing to "allow them" all the license they want.  I just want to know
why they did it.

(Incidentally, I had posted a second reply to Dan Schmidt on the authorship
of the third-person segments a couple days ago, but without my realizing it
my computer had reset the date to 1956, so it may have gotten lost on some


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