(urth) Jolenta the beautiful via Talos

Scott K scott at skatemonk.com
Mon Oct 30 22:03:43 PST 2006

David Di Giacomo notes: Talos's surgical skill made Jolenta 
irresistably attractive to everyone, even Severian's dead grandmother.

   I do like this idea, whatever the true source of Sev's notion of a 
tryst between Dorcas and Jolenta, or whether it happened or not. 
Jolenta was a walking aphrodesiac to many, including Jonas and the 
cash-holding members of any potential audience. Instant Marilyn Monroe 
treatment, anyone? Sure to increase your box office. However, I think 
it is wrong to attribute Jolenta's beauty to any surgical skills of Dr. 
Talos. That would be a case of explaining his abilities in terms of our 
own age, i.e., he is a doctor so it may have been a kind of plastic 
surgery as we know today, or something faster and more advanced. But 
the foxy doctor does say after meeting the thin waitress with 
straggling hair at breakfast, "I will make you beautiful because we 
require you as an actress. It is one of my powers," and more 
importantly, "...I must cast the glamour and teach you your lines, all 
in a day."
   Though not in common usage today (raise the Wolfean caution flag), 
the term glamour didn't always mean mere beauty or celebrity as it does 
to us, but it is a kind of illusory spell that the faeries of old might 
use to make a handful of flower petals seem like gold coins to a human, 
or as Zeus might use to look like a mortal woman's husband so he could 
gain her bed for a night. As we see later, the glamour rapidly fades 
from poor Jolenta, at a terrible cost to her mortal span. The hidden 
cost in the deal, she was made to burn more brightly, though more 
briefly. She did not have the basic muscular strength to carry her 
enhanced frame's fuller thighs and breasts etc., and tired much more 
easily than someone who'd developed them naturally. I believe the 
Doctor may have cast this glamour through some potion or advanced 
bio-mutagen related to Baldanders' weird experiments in his castle 
laboratory (the captive boy).
-Scott Kimball
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