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From: Michael Andre-Driussi <mantis@sirius.com>
Subject: RE: (whorl) Style (spoiler)
Date: Thu, 1 Mar 2001 18:21:21 

Adam wrote:
>I've commented before on the unlikelihood of the children preserving the
>mystery of "Horn"'s identity until the end.  Unlike Wolfe's narrative games
>in other works, I can't see that the children's authorship of the
>third-person sections is anything more than a device to increase Wolfe's
>mystification of "Horn"'s identity.

I politely disagree in the most strenuous terms while still allowing for
all the spectrum of personal readings.

The kick of all the Whorl stuff being written by people who have never
actually been on the Whorl, and never are going to be on the Whorl . . .
well.  It is somewhat like having the fictional framing of "`A Story' by
John V. Marsch" (an anthropological reconstruction/romance) eroded and put
through the pretzel machine in the course of "V.R.T.," only much moreso.
Because we read those Whorl chapters as being "true," "from the Narrator
named Horn by his mother," "based upon firsthand experience," etc.  Just as
OBW and IGJ had been.

The poignancy of N meeting Horn's father; the intensity of the dark; the
sacrifice of the eye; visits by "ghosts" from the beginning (Remora) to the
end (Crane); N's sense of what any of it means; all vppppt!  Gone into a
different plane.  At first read perhaps we think "N is writing in third
person during these sections because he is recreating through the action of
writing how he was still struggling to get a grip on his personality/body
issues."  Nope.  We might think, "Oh look, it says right here in the first
few pages that the pockets of the robe were unfamiliar--that means he does
not recall being Silk."  Not exactly, but it does suggest what the
writer(s) think about what happened (whether the writer[s] are consistant
or not, etc.).

Here we were expecting to get to the "heart" of the matter, and we find
that we are further away than when we started.  Like in 5HC, where you
think you've been on Ste. Anne, but you never have, you've always been on
Ste. Croix.

The entire Whorl "half" of the book really =is= fan-fiction (aka fanfic).
Literally and truly.  (This is unarguable, right?)  Again, this is another
term (fanfic) which has been bandied about with regard to RTTW, in reaction
to cases which may or may not be limited to the Whorl "half"; but yet
again, here is a detail ("fanfic quality, nuance, or origin") to which I
myself say, "That's not a =bug=, that's a =feature=."

Which, in turn, boils down to the simple case of "I like it" and "you don't."

I have here tried to explain my reading, to explain why I, personally,
strongly object to Adam's statement of opinion, reiterated here again for
clarity: "I can't see that the children's authorship of the third-person
sections is anything more than a device to increase Wolfe's mystification
of "Horn"'s identity."

Perhaps a flavor of discontent with RTTW can compare with the following
case regarding URTH OF THE NEW SUN: some readers were expecting certain
types of revelation, and when these things didn't materialize, they said
things like, "URTH doesn't give anything that wasn't intimated before."

Likewise, it may be for RTTW and some readers.

This particular fanfic angle might also lead to some of the more tricky
("potentially destabilizing of a given reading") questions inspired by John
Crowley's ENGINE SUMMER, since the same can be said of it in its entirety.
To the same sort of reader disappointment/thwarting, etc.


Sirius Fiction
Catalog and errata sheet at http://www.sirius.com/~mantis/

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