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From: Adam Stephanides <adamsteph@earthlink.net>
Subject: (whorl) Third-person sections in RttW
Date: Sun, 01 Apr 2001 22:01:41 

I've been trying to approach the problem of the third-person sections from a
different angle, by asking why they are there at all.  When you think about
it, their presence is strange.  After all, the editors' primary aim is to
publish "the protagonist's" memoir.  I can't think of any real-life examples
in which the editors of a memoir have supplemented it with a novelistic
reconstruction of episodes missing from the memoir (although I'm sure that
now that I've said this, somebody will come up with one).  If the editors
simply wanted to fill in the gaps in Horn's story, a straightforward account
the length of Horn's chapter summarizing his career on Green would have
sufficed.  Why compose an extended "re-creat[ion]" from Horn's perspective,
many of the details of which must be invented?  Especially since, by failing
to specify what is invention and what isn't, the editors cast doubt upon
everything in their re-creation.

The only clue to the editors' motives I'm aware of is their statement in the
Afterword: "What is most certain is the point most frequently doubted by
those who have read earlier drafts of the present volume: that he abandoned
his search for Silk in order that his chance-met friend's vision might be
restored."  And they continue to argue this for ten more lines.  This
suggests to me that the editors wrote the third-person sections precisely in
order to "prove" this claim, a proof that a factual account presumably would
not have supplied and that their earlier drafts did not.

But what, precisely, was the doubt the editors were trying to refute?  Was
it the view held by many on this list that the protagonist gave up his eye
so he could download Silk-in-Pig, and hence was continuing, not sacrificing
his quest?  Perhaps, but I don't know why the editors would go to such
lengths to refute this view.  It seems more likely to me that they were
refuting claims that the protagonist had not sacrificed his eye at all: that
he had just lost his eye somehow, later abandoned his quest, and invented
the story of the bargain with Hari Mau and sacrificed eye to excuse his
abandonment.  The continuation of the paragraph, with its insistence that
Horn acted only from the most honorable motives, and may not have been
abandoning the quest after all, makes more sense if directed against such a

But this is where my reasoning stops.  Lacking any independent account of
the protagonist on Whorl, and lacking the earlier drafts, we don't know what
incidents, if any, were invented or altered by the editors to make the
protagonist's sacrifice more convincing.  Nor do I see how this hypothesis
would explain the anomalous features of the third-person sections I and
others have pointed out.  Perhaps someone else can carry this line of attack

About those anomalous features, incidentally: Rostrum wrote:

> Folks have complained that Horn's children wouldn't write that way, that
> it is implausible that they would write a narrative that deliberately
> hides the protagonist's identity until the "gotcha" moment at the very end
> where they write, "Silk nodded."
> I think this is a misunderstanding.  I think Horn's kids faced the same
> problem that drives us to write about "Hornsilk" or "Silkhorn," that they
> believed that this man was somehow both Silk and Horn and that rather than
> use some awkward amalgam name like Passilk, they just didn't call him
> anything until the point in the story where he had changed and it then
> seemed appropriate just to call him Silk.

But there are  ways of indicating that the protagonist is both Horn and Silk
without using amalgams like "Silkhorn."  And while the editors' suppression
of any name but "he" leaves the protagonist's identity ambiguous in
retrospect, it doesn't read that way at the time.  Since "Horn" protests
that he is Horn throughout, and since the third-person sections give us (we
think) access to "Horn's" mind which seemingly bears out his claim, we
accept his claim at face value (at least I did).  So the failure to identify
the protagonist is deceptive in effect.  And I have a hard time believing
the editors wouldn't have recognized that and taken steps to correct it.


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