(urth) The Guild's Revolutionary

Mark Millman markjmillman at gmail.com
Mon Nov 23 07:21:54 PST 2009

Dear Mr. Wynn,

On Monday 23 November 2009, you wrote:

> I've always thought the Borges=Ultan
> theory was tenuous. Not impossible,
> just not much supporting it beyond
> Utlan's blindness. . . .

There's also the fact that both Ultan and Borges were national
librarians of their respective countries.

> Okay. While Wolfe might well have been
> introduced to the monster "Baldanders"
> by Borges, it comes from the Renais-
> sance fantasy story "Simplicius Simpli-
> cissimus".<looks over at it sitting on his
> shelf right> According to the story, the
> name means "first one thing and then
> another" because, like the wizard Talei-
> san, it is always changing into other
> things. Although I can think of several
> reasons why Wolfe might have been at-
> tracted to a "successive monster", as
> Borges calls it, I have no idea how this
> relates to Wolfe's Frankenstein.

I have two different editions of the Simplicissimus, both of which
lack the sixth book in which, according to Borges, Baldanders appears.
 What edition do you have, and who prepared it?  I'd like to look for
a copy of my own.

For those list members who haven't encountered it, the Simplicissimus
is a sort of German Candide set during the Thirty Years' War.  The
sixth book, which was added late in the author's life, is, as I
understand it, considerably more fantastic than the novel's preceding
books, although there are fantastic episodes earlier, with a
particularly long one falling in the fifth book.  My guess is that
modern editors are primarily interested in the work's realistic
aspects and omit the sixth book as an inferior late addition.  While
it's not well known in the English-speaking world today (although I
just found an on-line version at
http://rbsche.people.wm.edu/teaching/grimmelshausen/ and there are a
couple of reasonably accurate Wikipedia articles on it and its
author), many German authorities consider it to be the beginning of
the modern German novel tradition.

> J.


Mark Millman

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