(urth) Eyes of Thecla

mournings glory mourningsglory at hotmail.com
Mon May 1 19:56:49 PDT 2006

From: "b sharp"

>Wolfe seems to use physical descriptions of his characters in somewhat
>mysterious ways... in BotNS, Thecla is first described as having "great 
>violet eyes,
>lids shaded with blue". Her large, violet eyes are noted numerous times
>later in the text.

Much of the early violet imagery in Shadow is associated with flowers in the 
necropolis. I.e., "The necropolis has never seemed a city of death to me; I 
know its purple roses  (which other people think so hideous) shelter 
hundreds of small animals and birds." "Spring came, and with it the 
purple-striped and white-dotted lilies of the necropolis." "The lilies faded 
as lilies do, and the dark death roses came into bloom. I cut them and 
carried them to Thecla, nigrescent purple flecked with scarlet." Hence the 
chief use of violet/purple may be to foreshadow Thecla's imminent death.

>In Sword, in a mushroom induced dream, it is implied that Thecla's (and
>other exultant women's)eyes have been made to grow bigger by "the
>application of minute amounts of certain poisons in childhood".

Belladonna will do this and was often used by Venetian courtesans to enhance 
their desirability. Interestingly the first six letters in scopolagna -- 
which is how at one time Hethor refers to his lost love -- can also refer to 
a class of compounds extracted from belladona.

>Now there
>is another quasi-character who is described as having eyes with great 
>as dark as wells, irises purple as summer flowers.  It is Hethor's

Isn't it implicit in URTH that Gunnie is actually Hethor's imaginary 
girlfriend? Her eyes are described "as large, as dark and as soft as any 
cow's," which doesn't necessarily rule out a darker shade of violet. Ditto 
for her real name -- Burgundafora -- I've always associated burgundy with a 
sort of wine-dark red shading into purple.

>I don't know of any other characters who are described as having very large
>violet or purple eyes, so it is difficult to call the similarity a
>coincidence, especially since both descriptions first appear in Shadow. But
>what connection can there be between these two?  I have some vague thoughts
>involving the kaibit process but I'm interested in any ideas others might

Then again maybe you're onto something. So let's have it, mr "c" note.

mourning's glory (whose namesake, of course, also comes in violet and 

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