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From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes" <ddanehy@siebel.com>
Subject: (whorl) For Adam and James: Literary Devices, Authorship, and
Date: Tue, 6 Mar 2001 09:20:44 

Adam done wrote:

> What I meant by this comment was not that the children's
> authorship should not affect our interpretation of RTTW.
> Rather, I meant that I don't find it believable that the
> children wrote these sections, although I am compelled
> to accept it as "true". [1]

I don't immediately have a problem with the kids deliberately writing their
sections of the "Book of Horn" in a way that features prominent 
elisions and elusions. The problem arises when I try to figure out 
how these reveal character: for they seem designed to reveal the 
character of (Pas)silkhorn rather than that of Hoof-Hide-Daisy-Vadsig;
and that just doesn't make a great deal of sense. And granting their 
motives to be similiar to those of Horn writing the Book of Silk -- 
to preserve to their whorl the memory of the best man they have ever 
known -- does not improve matters; it makes them worse. Horn may 
have excluded things that would have shown Silk as less than the 
paragon Horn wished to portray; what about the children?

Mr Wolfe is a writer obsessed with memory but painfully aware of its 
deceptive nature; one of the first questions to ask about a narrative 
falsification in a Wolfe narrative is whether it is deliberate or 
unconscious (each reveals character but in very different ways). 

I think it's clear that the sections of SHORT by "the narrator" 
e[xc]l[u|i]de his Silkishness unconsciously, and that those by the 
children do so deliberately, and that the purposes are quite 
different. Further, I think the reasons for "the narrator" leaving the 
question of his identity out of the narrative (and still sometimes 
putting it in Freudianslipperishly) are luminous-numinous. But -- 
again -- what about the children?

In Mr Wolfe's universe, everybody writes like Wolfe. I do not mean 
that they all write with a monolithic "Wolfe style" (though there is 
some truth to that), but that everyone elides, eludes, conceals (and 
reveals), and makes mistakes in their narratives. What they conceal, 
and what they reveal by their concealing, is, in Mr Wolfe's universe, 
a (maybe _the_) indicator of character.

The exemplum prima inter pares would of course be Severian, whose 
elisions damn near _are_ THE BOOK OF THE NEW SUN; but it's true of 
every first-person narrator from Number 5 to Holly Hollander. By 
their falsifications and concealments shall ye know them. 

And why do the children conceal the "narrator"'s identity?

One immediate possibility, which doesn't feel right to me: the 
children are (consciously or un-) e[xc]l[i|u]ding matters which would 
tend to make Silkhorn look more like Horn and less like Silk -- not 
because of some quasireligious desire to portray "Silk" as the perfect 
man but because the last thing they [H&H, that is] can admit to 
themselves is that they have in any way rejected their actual father, 
sent him packing off back to the Whorl.

But the actual nature of their concealments seems to militate against 
this: they conceal for the wet-firecracker "final revelation" 
Silkhorn's discovery that he is in some real sense Silk (we can still 
disagree about just what that sense is). That doesn't directly bother 
me; Wolfe is just subtle enough to have them unconsciously reveal by 
concealing what they would actually like to conceal by revealing. 
Perhaps it is exactly at that level of subtlety, though, that my own
ability to track sympathetically with Mr Wolfe's program falls to the 
ground: at any rate, it just doesn't work for me. So what do these 
concealments reveal about the narrators of these sections? 

Can their brief interruptions in OBW, conspicuously absent from IGJ, 
contribute? Really, all they have to add is a few [Sic]s and one note 
that Nettle has read OBW.

-- But this fact, in and of itself, suggests that there is a 
significant gap of time between Silkhorn's implosion therapy at 
Remora's hands and the departure to return one more time to the 
_Whorl_. OBW is a big book and not fast reading in print; it would 
take Nettle some significant time to read it in holograph, esp. under 
the circumstances prevalent on Lizard at the time. I should expect a 
minimum of a month or two: plenty of time for Silk(horn) to maunder 
to the children over "poor Pig" and so on.

Well, then. Given that time frame, let's take this as a hypothesis: 
the children's decision to (deliberately) continue the (unconscious) 
tactic of PSH's text and conceal the identity of PasSilkHorn, and
the Tomato Surprise ending, constitute _their_ idea of a subtle 
literary device; which is why it is so clumsily handled. It's pretty 
damned obvious long before RttW begins that "the narrator of" OBW/IGJ 
is wandering around in Silk's body, neh? 

Let's take it as given that they have not had the full benefit of a 
liberal education. Is this possible; more importantly, is it 
plausible? Would and could they have done this? "Would" is hard,
and reverts to the question of character; as for "could" -- I can
only refer you to the huge number of "primitive" narratives in the
"real" world that use some startlingly sophisticated techniques.

Assuming that they _could_, and that _would_ defers us to the question 
of character, the immediate critical question is now reduced to this: 

	Does Mr Wolfe deliberately commit a narrative clumsiness 
	because his narrators would do so? And if so, is this 
	subtle or clumsy on Mr Wolfe's part?

This is your final essay for the semester; it is due in one week.
(I have some ideas about this but want to see some discussion before
I spout any further in this direction.)

There are some fairly obvious objections to this model, which I
shall attempt to disarm so that it can be discussed on its own

> I find it hard to believe, therefore, that they would write prose
> like "from time to time ... some motion of Pig's evoked the soft 
> speech of foliage.  A faint and liquid music succeeded it, waking
> his tongue and lips to thirst." (50)  (Compare this with the 
> sections written by Hoof and Daisy individually.)

A fair cop, to some extent. I found Hoof's personal chapters, in
particular, almost painfully clumsy compared to the usual Wolfe
manner; I don't think I _could_ read an entire book by Hoof. 

So I see these possibilities:
1. Someone else (most likely "the Narrator") wrote the third-person 
   chapters and the kids (for whatever reason) take credit for it.
2. The kids, in collaboration, are able to pastiche the style of 
   "the Narrator" in a way that they individually cannot.
3. Writing these sections they deliberately pastiche "the Narrator";
   writing in their own voices they don't.

There are two issues underlying this. First, are we to believe that
they are capable of this level of pastiche; second, is there some
good reason why they would claim to have written something they did

The second question, again, devolves into the question of character,
and "what does this reveal?" 

As to the first, I can give the half-hearted answer that Hide & Hoof 
are the children of a man whose most notable talent as a youth was 
verbal imitation, not only of Silk's voice but of his style. (Is there 
any reason to believe, by the by, that Silk is the _only_ person he 
was able so to imitate? Gifted impressionists are very rarely limited 
to a single "victim," Elvis impersonators to the contrary.)

> Another example is the "'Seen me h'ears'" passage.  We are given
> these words of Pig's but no description of his ears, and left to
> make the correct inferences ourselves.

(...assuming, of course, that the inferences made here _have_ been
the correct ones...)

Simple supposition, which slips nicely under Occam's rule: this is 
how PSH narrated it to the kids, and they, failing to make the 
correct inferences, repeated what they heard/remembered.

> Add to these the absence of any discernible difference between
> "litSilkhorn" and "real Silkhorn" as seen in his own narration. 

Again, plausible in terms of pastiche, _if_ we may assume that these
chapters are pastiche and not stolen.

> All in all, to me the third-person passages read as if Wolfe had
> originally written them as "objective" third-person narrative, and
> only after the fact decided to attribute them to Hoof, Hide, Vadsig
> and Daisy.  

The only problem with this being that, as far as I can tell, Wolfe
doesn't believe in _objective_ narrative.

> I'm afraid that I personally did not get a "kick" from the 
> revelation of the children's authorship (both in the sense of
> enjoyment, and of a jolt).  

Well, we've known since mid-OBW that SHORT is "edited" by the


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