bsharporflat at hotmail.com
Tue May 30 07:17:12 PDT 2006
Andrew T. posts:
>I'm at work and sadly didn't bring my novels with me, but off the top
>of my head, doesn't Rudesind also mention a Fechin painting of himself
>as a younger man (or boy)? I recall him going on for a bit about
>cleaning up an image of himself, and about how he wished somebody
>would clean him up in the same way.
>Also, in the story the old man tells, Fechin draws two pictures, one
>on each side of the piece of paper the old man gave him: one of the
>girl that he's (presumably) just slept with, and one of the old man.
>Where is it mentioned in the text that Fechin has painted himself?
Thank you Andrew! No, your memory of the story is quite perfect. I hinted
at the solution to one of your objections in my last post. Actually, I
thought I had already posted a follow-up which solved the rest of your
objections but it appears to have gotten lost in cyberspace. I'll try to
recreate my thoughts though I'm at work also and I can't quote text as I'd
like (and as I did in the lost post).
I think both your legitimate objections stem from purposeful Gene Wolfe
misleadings. First I must explain that I think Rudesind is Fechin. There
are monkey-like similarities to the apperance of both. We know Fechin has
red hair but we don't know the color of Rudesind's. The name Rudesind might
be a clue.
Rudesind describes himself as being a gifted child artist. A "real" artist
comes to visit him, to see the child's work. The text then implies that the
visitor was Fechin and he made a drawing of the child which was sent to the
House Absolute which becomes a Fechin. BUT (given my suspicion) I think it
was actually a self-portrait by the child because the child is drawn with a
tangerine and brushes. Both were promised to the child on completion of the
portrait. But it is the artist who needs brushes near him, not the subject.
Unless it is a self-portrait. And the traveller wanted to see examples of
the child's work.
Moreover both Rudesind and Fechin are described as child artists who don't
even have paper to draw on. A set of brushes (and a tangerine) would be a
fabulous gift from the artist/art collector visiting from the House
The next objection is the old person living in Casdoe's house. There is
something VERY strange about this person. Unreliable Severian refers to
this old person as Casdoe's father at one point and Becan's father at
another. Casdoe introduces her son to Severian but not the old person.
Casdoe says only one, unheard thing to the old person during Severian's 24
hour day with this family. I am pretty sure Wolfe is trying to hide the use
of pronouns to hide the fact that Severian has mistaken an old woman for an
old man. A hint to this deception might be use of the name Herais for
Casdoe's mother in Thrax. In early Christian legend, Herais was a woman who
had changed into a man in mid-life. But perhaps the use of Herais is
accidental by Wolfe (is it?).
I think this deception is used to disguise Severian's family tree, which I
will get to in a later post, as well as confuse the Rudesind-Fechin issue.
Anyway, the old woman, as I'd like to call her now, talks about Fechin more
the way a woman would. She admits he looks like a monkey but is so tall and
"the handsomest boy around". He could make any girl do anything for him.
Even share sex partners I think, though of course the old woman doesn't
admit that part. Fechin sleeps with another girl (a beautiful, blonde I
suspect) while (the future) old woman waits downstairs. The beautiful woman
has been waiting and watching for Fechin in the upstairs window. There is
another BotNS charcter whose first memory is sitting in a window, with
pretty things, trays and a rood.
(BTW, there is another saint who is famous for sitting in a window (to hear
Paul preach). But her name is Thecla. Might be a coincidene.. or...)
Anyway Fechin draws pictures of both of girls (on a rare piece of paper she
provided). And draws one of himself I think. He keeps all the pictures. The
old woman also talks about Fechin stealing a copper pan. He might use it as
a boat, or might use it as a mirror...presumably to make (another)
I hate to stretch things too far but I'll mention that Rudesind describes
his own, child's eyes in the painting as brown. Throughout the text Wolfe
always uses the adjective "dark" for brown eyes, except twice (that I know).
First for Rudesind and later in a dream sequence, a Father-like Bull head
has the only other "brown" eye we see. This may be a connection for both
Rudesind and Fechin to Father Inire. Perhaps it should be noted that Saint
Rudesind was a Benedictine monk, the order founded on the edict called "The
Benedictine Bull". But maybe that's....never mind.
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