(urth) And Another:

Tony Ellis tonyellis69 at btopenworld.com
Thu Jul 19 12:43:23 PDT 2007

Paul B wrote:
> at that point he's questioned by "An old man, a boatman from his tar-stained
> clothes" about it, the man asks whether he actually saw a woman.  Of course
> Severian does see the undine, and hears Thecla, but doesn't answer.   The
> puzzling thing is the identity of the man, and how he knows what he does.
> Let me know what you think!

and Dan'l:
>Yes. The old man is ... I'm forgetting his name, but Dorcas' husband,
>and Sev's own grandfather, whom he meets again in the Gardens.

This has been said before, and I'm not quite clear why everyone seems
so certain. Yes, Dorcas's husband is looking for a woman underwater,
and yes, he says that some bodies end up in the river, but isn't it a
bit odd that Severian doesn't recognise the old man when he sees him
again in the Gardens? And why would Dorcas's husband be wearing the
tar-stained garb of a river boatman, when he's an ex-shopkeeper who
owns a tiny skiff?

I've always assumed that the old man in tar-stained clothes, if he's
spent his life on the river, has occasionally glimpsed, or heard, an
undine - just as the boatman in CotA has. So when Severian is fished
out of Gyoll saying he's seen someone underwater, the old boatman
assumes - correctly, as it happens - that Severian has seen the same

More information about the Urth mailing list