(urth) "The Eleventh City"

Helen Algmin helenalgmin at yahoo.com
Mon Feb 11 11:53:24 PST 2008

Hi.  This is my first post. I am an avid reader of Wolfe short stories because I operate under the delusion that they are easier to figure out than the novels.Other than the stories, the Solider series is my all-time favorite Wolfe work.

I can't comment on Wolfer yet, but I will re-read it. I'm afraid I can't shed too much light on The Eleventh City, either. I haven't responded earlier because I am just as befuddled as you.

  I take this story as more thought-provoking than puzzling.  What an interesting concept that the demon Legion keeps asking to be moved from one body to the next in interests of survival. What an interesting idea that the demon pig traveled throughout the western world and then to S. America with the Spanish.
Sam Cooper is a recurring character in, I think, four stories.  He's a folklore-ist. So maybe we can take it at face value that he is not involved directly with the story he's telling. 

* What's the significance of the title? 
  I may be way off here.  But my first instinct is to think it is supposed to indicate that the town is like an extension of the Ten Cities.  Like a metaphor for the fact that the known world was once small, in biblical times, but now it encompasses the whole world. Or something.

* Why did Jacinta throw stones at Sam Cooper?
Because she's crazy?  Sorry, no answer for this one. 
* What does the postscript really add to the story? 
I personally think the P.S. is the most intriguing part! "...no sane person could have done it and remained sane. I have photographed it."  So does it drive Cooper crazy or is he jaded enough not to be phased by it?

JBarach at aol.com wrote 
  Again, this story appeared quite straightforward.  It didn't entirely work for me.  I would have preferred, I think, to have it end with Cooper in some danger or somehow actually involved with the events described.  Instead, we get the story, as it were, at arm's length.  I wonder why?  Am I missing something?  Are we supposed to feel a sense of foreboding as we come to the end?  Or is it just Sam Cooper passing on an odd incident, as it appears on the surface to be?
  A couple more questions: 
  * What's the significance of the title?  It clearly refers to the passage from the Gospel of Mark which Cooper quotes in his letter.  The man who had the legion of demons (which were cast into the swine) then proclaimed what Jesus had done in "Ten Cities" (which is the region of Decapolis, across the Sea of Galilee from the region of Galilee).  
  Those were "ten cities," but the title refers to an "eleventh."  Which is it?  The city where Cooper is?  If so, what's the significance?  I suppose Cooper is "publishing" (the word for proclamation used in the version Cooper quotes) the news of another exorcism wrought by Jesus, by means of the blessed sacrament, in this letter to an eleventh city, Lincoln, Nebraska, and he's asking whether he ought to publish this account in his book.
  Of course, technically, it was the man who had the demons who then published abroad what Jesus had done.  Here, it's Sam Cooper asking whether he ought to publish this account.  
  Anything more?  I ask because the title pushes us to wonder about "the eleventh city."
  * Why did Jacinta throw stones at Sam Cooper?  I notice that later he says "I was stoned by her," which calls to mind the stonings practiced in various stories in the Bible.  (In fact, it makes me wonder, because Dell makes a point of saying that Jacinta was a loose woman, but, even now, she isn't the one who is stoned; rather she does the stoning ... of Sam Cooper.)  What's going on here?
  * What does the postscript really add to the story?  I suspect it does add something, but I'm just missing it.

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