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From: Adam Stephanides <adamsteph@earthlink.net>
Subject: Re: (whorl) Textual criticism of TBOTSS; disturbing thought
Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 20:29:48 

on 6/15/01 2:21 PM, Adam Stephanides at adamsteph@earthlink.net wrote:

> The components are:
> 2.  The third-person "Horn" sections written by the editors.

> 2 is a narrative based on a
> combination, in unknown proportions, of a participant's testimony,
> imperfectly recollected by its hearers (there is no indication that Horn's
> recollections were transcribed at the time he spoke them) and conjecture by
> the editors.

I missed something here: the third-person account of "Horn's" final meeting
with Remora is based not on "Horn's" recollections but on Remora's
testimony.  This raises a tough question.  The passage on pages 406 and 407,
from "His hands were still now" up to "Returning with a worn volume" -- what
is the source for this?  Remora is absent for nearly all this passage; he
only "caught the last few words."  The source is not Silk, since "Following
that interview, he was seen only by Daisy" (410) and Daisy's account of this
meeting says nothing about this. (*)  The only other witness to this passage
is Oreb, and he is surely not the source.  So what are the possibilities?  I
see only three.

1)  After the portion of the interview we are given, Silk told Remora of
"Horn's" last conversation.  But it's hard to see why he would have done

2)  There was an eavesdropper, not mentioned in either the text of the
chapter or the epilogue--a hypothesis of desperation.

3)  Most likely: this entire moving passage is the editors' invention.  Horn
said something to Oreb, ending with the words "When at last I was given the
chance to actually do something for him, I failed" or something similar, but
we know nothing else.

Not only is this a moving passage, but it contains important indications of
"Horn's" state of mind which are not duplicated elsewhere, as far as I know.
It also contains the information that the Greater Scylla "taught me how to
communicate with her sister here," (407) from which several deductions have
been drawn.  I don't even see another source for Horn's asking the Greater
Scylla how to find Seawrack (Juganu tells Hoof that Horn made a bargain with
the Greater Scylla, but doesn't say what Scylla's side of the bargain was).
If the above paragraphs are correct, and if Wolfe has not simply blundered,
then all this is useless in terms of finding out "what really happened."

Furthermore, if the editors would invent such crucial information, how much
of what is contained in the passages based on Horn's recollection can be
relied upon?  Can any of it be?  These are radical conclusions, and I'm not
pleased with them.  But I don't see offhand how to escape them.

So it appears that the third-person sections are neither an omniscient
narrator's reliable account (as the reader who has not yet read the
Afterword is likely to assume) nor an attempt by the editors to "flesh out"
Horn's oral recollections, in the manner of non-fiction books such as Bob
Woodward's in which conversations are "reconstructed" (as I had assumed);
but a combination of the latter with totally fictional material, in the
manner of, say, _The Killer Angels_, a novel based upon the Battle of
Gettysburg, which uses real historical figures such as Lee and Longstreet,
and has them doing things they really did, but also attributes to them
conversations which there is no evidence ever took place.  So mantis's
designation of these sections as fan fiction, which I had rejected before,
is at least partly correct.

Since the question "what difference does it make?" has just been raised
again in reference to Horn's authorship of TBOTLS, I'll add that in this
case I think it makes a lot of difference.  In TBOTLS, Horn's Silk was the
only Silk we had.  But in TBOTSS, we need to know whether conclusions we
draw regarding the "Horn" seen in the third-person sections of the book can
be applied to the "Horn" seen in the first-person sections (other than as
evidence of how the editors viewed the "Horn.") (**)

Rereading the book's ending with these considerations in mind brings up
another point upon which I have to backtrack, at least partly.  The giveway
words at the end of chapter 30--"Silk nodded."--were "really" written by the
editors.  And since in the Afterword they avoid repeating this
identification, it's not evident what they meant: that Narr has always been
Silk (as opposed to Horn or Silkhorn) since the "transference" to the new
body?  That Narr was Silk at the end of chapter 30, and will remain Silk?
That Narr was Silk at that moment, but not necessarily in the future--i. e.
that it is Silk's "personality" speaking, but that Horn's personality
remains?  I still think the best interpretation is that Horn's personality,
though not his memories, are gone by this point; but I have to admit the
issue isn't as clear-cut as I thought it was.


(*) Daisy's narration ends "And he: 'To the stars.'  Soon after I left
them...".  This allows a temporal gap during which Silk could theoretically
have told Daisy of the conversation.  But in the first place, why should he
have?  At this point Daisy is only a "friend and fellow student" of Hoof's,
and has no connection with "Horn's" manuscripts.  He might conceivably tell
Daisy that "Horn's" last words were that he loved his sons, but there is no
reason for him to tell her the rest of the conversation.  In the second
place, if Silk, through Daisy, were another source for the editors' account,
why would they not mention it in the Afterword, where they discuss the
sources for the third-person passages?

(**) I would argue that the character seen in the first-person sections
written by the editors is in fact the same as the character seen in the
first-person sections written by the Narrator, and different from the
character seen in the third-person sections; but I'm not going to go into
that now.

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