(urth) The littlest apprentices

James Crossley ishmael at drizzle.com
Tue Oct 31 12:47:58 PST 2006

On 10/31/06 10:02 AM, "Daniel D Jones" <ddjones at riddlemaster.org> wrote:

> On Tuesday 31 October 2006 11:30, Nathan Spears wrote:
>> I wrote as much, albeit much abbreviated.  I should have put together the
>> final piece - Severian himself is stating that he breastfed, and obviously
>> he is a torturer.  So the only meaning of the phrase "know no breast" can
>> be "no longer breastfeed," if the phrase is to apply to him.  At this point
>> there is no longer any debate to be had.  One imagines a sort of torturer
>> nursery or torturer-adoption program in which wet nurses care for children
>> until they are self-sufficient enough to be taken by the guild.
> It still leaves the apparent contradiction between the statement that they
> know no breasts and the statement that they take the child from the womb and
> find a wet nurse.  The only definition I'm aware of for a wet nurse is a
> woman who breastfeeds another's child.

Perhaps I'm being obtuse, but this whole line of discussion seems to have
overcomplicated the text.  Maybe the problem is the word "take."  In my
reading, when conditions for victims so dictate (already born but unweaned
infants or sometimes late-term pregnancies) the torturers arrange wet
nurses.  As for the ultimate disposition of these children, it varies. Some
may be returned to their families;  others, who have no families and
otherwise meet the requirements (male, shorter than the bar) are accepted
into the guild and know no breasts _from that point on_, primarily because
they're already weaned.

All children are taken _from_ their mothers, but not all are taken _into_
the guild.  Severian seems to be referring to the latter sense of the word
"take" in the phrase in question, whereas the wet nurse comment applies more


P.S.  I've got a fresh copy of SoS sitting next to me, but I haven't opened
it yet.

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