(urth) Suzanne Delage redux

Jerry Friedman jerry_friedman at yahoo.com
Wed Dec 8 20:46:01 PST 2010

From: Gerry Quinn gerryq at indigo.ie

>From: "Gwern Branwen" <gwern0 at gmail.com>
>> On Thu, Apr 23, 2009 at 11:15 PM, Gwern Branwen <gwern0 at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> So, someone complained it was quiet around here...

Heh heh.

>> I recently gave it another polish and put it on my website:
>> http://www.gwern.net/Suzanne%20Delage.html
>> Hopefully this form is much more readable. I don't think I missed any
>> major theories about "Suzanne Delage" but perhaps someone has thought
>> of a new one in the last year or so?

> Suzanne Delage is a kind of horror story, but the supernatural element is 
>something we do not think of as supernatural, because it is > the stuff of every 
>romance novel - only Wolfe has inverted the story.

> There is no doubt here - this is the image of the woman he would have loved.  
>If only he had met her.
>By some perverse conspiracy of chance or fate he did not, and his life has been 

I pretty much agree with this--it's "the dislocation of all we expect from 
nature and probability"--but I suspect supernatural intervention.  I see no 
connection to Snow White and greatly doubt the one to sea urchins.  In other 
words, in the unlikely event that Wolfe meant them, he didn't put them in the 
story in a way that helps me enjoy it.

An easily overlooked clue is that Pie Club.  What kind of pie?  Only one kind is 
mentioned, very close--chess pie, an old Southern dessert.  This reinforces the 
reference to chess, with its intimation of powerful beings moving people around 
like pieces on a board.  See the end of Canto 3 of Nabokov's /Pale Fire/ and, 
even more Wolfean, Borges's sonnets on chess.

These clues are also connected to debate--Wolfe anticipated that people would 
debate interpretations.  And he provides an response to that.  What is chess pie 
like?  Pecan pie without the pecans.  Thus Wolfe tells us unmistakeably that the 
chess interpretation is the only one that isn't nuts.

Jerry Friedman

P. S. Of course I don't believe anything in those last two paragraphs.

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