(urth) Allusion source: "The exultant Talarican" on Nessus?

Gerry Quinn gerry at bindweed.com
Tue Jan 15 18:58:36 PST 2019

On 16/01/2019 02:33, Gwern Branwen wrote:
>  From _The Shadow of the Torturer_:
>> "How many people do you think there are in Nessus?"
>> "I have no idea."
>> "No more do I, Torturer. No more does anyone. Every attempt to count them has failed, as has every attempt to tax them systematically. The city grows and changes every night, like writing chalked on a wall. Houses are built in the streets by clever people who take up the cobbles in the dark and claim the ground - did you know that? The exultant Talarican, whose madness manifested itself as a consuming interest in the lowest aspects of human existence, claimed that the persons who live by devouring the garbage of others number two gross thousands. That there are ten thousand begging acrobats, of whom nearly half are women. That if a pauper were to leap from the parapet of this bridge each time we draw breath, we should live forever, because the city breeds and breaks men faster than we respire."
> Wolfe has so many obscure allusions, that such a specific set of
> claims about urban life has always made me wonder if "Talarican" was
> an allusion or transformation of some actual urban statistics.
> Talarican doesn't seem to have been discussed on urth.net or online
> before, so he is currently unidentified. (While searching I did find
> the D&D sourcebook I emailed about earlier today.)

Several hundred million so, given reasonable estimates for breathing 
rates and life expectancy.  Talarican's estimate seems high.

[Unless it's the acrobats who leap, and they get up to leap again...]

  - Gerry Quinn

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