Friday, October 23, 2009

"Shadow", Chapter 15, Part 1

The old man returned with a small fish that had expired upon a slice of coarse bread, and said, "Eat this and go."

He stood and watched me while I had my supper. When I had finished it, I asked where I could sleep.

"No rooms. I told you."

If a palace had stood with open doors half a chain away, I do not think I could have driven myself to leave that inn to go to it.

This is an amusing little scene; Severian is driving away all the inn's customers, so the innkeeper gives him a room just to get him out of sight. I like it because it's a good portrayal of spite. It's a small vengeance for a small rudeness done to you. Wolfe very succinctly shows how illogical it is: if someone causes you some small discomfort, the petty need to "get back at them" sometimes drives you to cause yourself some large discomfort.

"And then I dreamed, though it may have been that Baldanders' words, too, were a dream. Yet I do not think so, and if they were, it was a different dream." Yet again Severian has trouble distinguishing fantasy and reality.

The innkeeper has put him in a room with Baldanders, "a man who might fairly have been called a giant." Baldanders is "a creature of Germanic literary myth that features protean properties... [and] is symbolic for the continual change in nature and society." Baldanders was "featured in the bestiary The Book of Imaginary Beings by Jorge Luis Borges." Wolfe does like his Borges. "Baldanders was first conceived by shoemaker and writer Hans Sachs after reading the description of Proteus in The Odyssey." Proteus "is an early sea-god... whose name suggests... the 'primordial' or the 'firstborn'". Why am I mentioning all this? Well, I've read the book before, so, like Proteus, I can see the future. :)

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