(urth) Tang and Napoleon
slowalrus at gmail.com
Mon Jun 29 10:58:40 PDT 2009
Ahh .. I see someone else is having as much fun with PEACE as I am.
This is brilliant, I never thought to search the roots of the story in
Chinese history. My reading list has now doubled. Maybe the story, the
crimes and the missing pieces can be found in a retelling of a story
from the Tang Dynasty.
One thing I noted previously while reading the history of the Tang
Dynasty was that the capital of the Tang Dynasty was Chang'an,
literally translated as "Perpetual Peace". After the fall of the Tang
Dynasty, the city was renamed Xi'an, "Western Peace."
Also, something not mentioned before was that Macafee's name means
Another new (I believe) etymology: Margaret = pearl; Lorn = lost.
Lost Pearl. Much more to be said about that.
I read through Ludwig's Napolean biography also, and agree that there
is nothing there about the 'hand in the coat." A story recounted by
the author, however, tells of Napolean wooing Marie by stating that he
will put his hand under his coat and over his heart as a message of
love. Not sure if that means anything.
In the end I went with the theory that this is a Borges-like
technique. Wolfe lists the sources, but takes from them as he will.
I believe the offensive aspect of Den's Napolean factoid is hidden in
PEACE, not Ludwig.
Also, I am of two minds about my research regarding the quote from the
false Necronomicon wherein the writer's spirit guide leans in between
the moon and the dog star. I took it as an astronomical question at
first, but, due to the physics of it, many stars can appear between
the Moon and the dog star (one of which is Canus Minor .. maybe?).
After thinking about it, could this be a pun? One who leans in
between the moon and the dog star? A name for the dog star is Sirius.
Someone between seriousness (sirius-ness) and lunacy? The author
himself? Maybe not ;-)
On Mon, Jun 29, 2009 at 12:23 PM, Stephen Hoy<stephenhoy at yahoo.com> wrote:
> I recently picked up Peace for the first time, and now that I've completed
> a first read of this delightfully complex horror story. I'm mulling it over
> a thing or two. One thing we know about Peace, which we can learn either
> from the evidence in the novel or from urth-l archives, that Julius Smart's
> Cassionsville factory produces an acrid golden nectar marketed under the
> name of Tang. As I was reading, I noticed how frequently we run into
> 'tang' throughout Peace.
> - the blade of a Boy Scout knife
> - the sound of a bell at the bottom of the ocean (twice 'tang')
> - china left by Olivia in the cave with the skull
> - Olivia breading a Pekingese to restore the lion-dogs of the Tang dynasty
> - the porcelain pillow aka the Golden Millet Dream (written in the Tang
> I'm sure I'm missing quite a few others. One additional tang I found with a
> dictionary search,
> - the title PEACE = tang in Welsh.
> One other reminder...Olivia, Peacock, and Weer finding a skull in
> a mid-cliff cave:
> She squeezed my hand, and after a moment whispered in my ear that she had
> left her little dish with the hen on top in the cave. "For me. Because I had
> olives in it--do you see, Den? And besides, it's china."
> I pointed out that it was milk glass.
> "The bottom," she said firmly as Professor Peacock took his seat, "was
> - Peace p 59
> I can't figure out whose skull lies inside the cave, but Olivia's words
> alerted me that something from the Golden Age of China lies at the bottom of
> Peace. The novel turns on the Golden Millet Dream, and that's more than
> sufficient reason for an author to offer variations on the Tang theme
> throughout the novel. Perhaps that's all there is to it.
> On another topic, in speaking of the Dresden figure of Napoleon, Weer
> cites Ludwig's 1924 bio as a source for his understanding of the pose.
> Nowhere in Ludwig will you find a direct discussion of portraiture, nor is
> there a copy of David's Napoleon in His Study, the likely model for the
> Dresden figurine. However, Ludwig quotes a verbal portrait given by Madame
> de Stael, in which she states that Napoleon is at his best when he adopts a
> contemptuous air. Ludwig later elaborates this view of Napoleon, citing "the
> three fountains of his soul: contempt for mankind, understanding of the
> masses, and the critical aloofness of the foreigner who has chosen a new
> fatherland." Reminds me of Julius T. Smart.
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