(urth) Lake of Birds

David Stockhoff dstockhoff at verizon.net
Sun May 20 12:27:12 PDT 2012

On 5/20/2012 3:11 PM, Gerry Quinn wrote:
> *From:* David Stockhoff <mailto:dstockhoff at verizon.net>
> **
> > The pipe still has to have a purpose. Surely Wolfe did not include it
> > simply because he was worried his readers would complain if he didn't
> > explain the lake, nor to demonstrate the builders' skill in hydrology.
> I don’t think it would be out of character for him to mention a 
> technological feature like this.
> > And here's the clincher:
> > [Lake Avernus] It was linked by a canal to a nearby lake (Lucrinus
> > Lacus) and from there to the sea.
> Well, I suppose he might well have included such a link as a nod to 
> the original Lake Avernus.
> > The lake shore was also connected to
> > the Greek colony of Cumae by an underground passage known as Cocceio's
> > Cave (Grotta di Cocceio) which was 1 km (0.62 mi) long and wide enough
> > to be used by chariots. This was the world's first major road 
> tunnel; it
> > remained usable until as recently as the 1940s.
> >
> > Damned if I knew about that! Anyway, the link is obscure, but you can
> > almost see the Wolfean mind at work.
> I don’t really see the implications of the above, other than the link 
> with the Cumaean which was elsewhere mentioned. I agree that the 
> original Cumaean prophesy may indeed have a counterpart in the 
> cacogenic Cumaean’s relationship to Severian.
> - Gerry Quinn

Two things. First, let's remember that Google wasn't around when BNS was 
written, and while I'm sure Wolfe didn't deliberately write for 
seminarians and graduate students, he did intend his connections to be 
visible. If one guesses a connection on the basis of a few links, one 
should at least be rewarded with finding a couple more new ones.

Second, IMHO for the most part he prefers his allusions to be 
concrete---not merely wordplay. That detail of the pipe, while small, is 
concrete. And as Bruno points out, connecting a lake to the sea has 
practical plot implications in BNS.

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