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  • "Who wouldn't hoard them?"

    OK, I reckon it's my turn to ask a stupid question now:
    • Why does Walden have those additional letters in the first place?
    And as a corollary to that question (which is quite similar to MicheleVR5's question here, I suppose):
    • How to explain the presence of the poem on p. 565?

  • #2
    I'm at work and don't have the book with me, so these comments are rather general.
    Walden's tone in the Introduction is rather proprietary with regard to Pelafina--in fact, a more accurate description, from a psychological standpoint, might be "icky." A couple of conversations, and he's smitten. So, he rescues the never-sent letters from the bonfire he describes . . . or maybe, after her death, lifts the letters from her room or her file in the office.
    Here's an observation, though, that either answers yours or just adds further complications: Walden writes the intro. to TWL and supplies the never-sent letters . . . but who actually assembles the complete collection of letters? Aside from Walden's mentioning Pelafina's son, there's no other link (aside from what we're told on the cover) between TWL and HoL. Perhaps Johnny assembles the letters in the interim between the first and second editions of HoL and, thus, writes "That Place" as a posthumous honoring of her mother's request? After all, we're told by The Editors somewhere in HoL that Mr. Truant has added other things to HoL at the request of others.
    Maybe.

    [Edit: I've GOT to start proofreading more closely . . .]

    Comment


    • #3
      I suppose what I'm really wondering is why were those letters never sent? I mean, it makes sense (at least if, as Pelafina asserts on several occasions, the Director (New or Old) is censoring her correspondence) that a letter like March 9, 1983 wouldn't have been sent, in order to shield Johnny from one of his mother's dark spells, but why were some of the later letters (like the lovely December 24, 1988 letter, part of which is identical to the poem on p. 565 of HoL) withheld, unless, as you say, Walden was stealing them, and then made up the story of rescuing them from the bonfire?

      Edit:
      Originally posted by John B.
      Walden's tone in the Introduction is rather proprietary with regard to Pelafina--in fact, a more accurate description, from a psychological standpoint, might be "icky." A couple of conversations, and he's smitten.
      Just as a side-note: this is also evinced by the dedication at the beginning of the book,¹ clearly inspired by this poem by Apollinaire (I can't imagine that this hasn't been noted before, but the search function certainly couldn't find it, so here it is in its entirety).:
      • Le pont Mirabeau

        Sous le pont Mirabeau coule la Seine
        Et nos amours
        Faut-il qu'il m'en souvienne
        La joie venait toujours après la peine

        Vienne la nuit sonne l'heure
        Les jours s'en vont je demeure

        Les mains dans les mains restons face à face
        Tandis que sous
        Le pont de nos bras passe
        Des éternels regards l'onde si lasse

        Vienne la nuit sonne l'heure
        Les jours s'en vont je demeure

        L'amour s'en va comme cette eau courante
        L'amour s'en va
        Comme la vie est lente
        Et comme l'Espérance est violente

        Vienne la nuit sonne l'heure
        Les jours s'en vont je demeure

        Passent les jours et passent les semaines
        Ni temps passé
        Ni les amours reviennent
        Sous le pont Mirabeau coule la Seine

        Vienne la nuit sonne l'heure
        Les jours s'en vont je demeure
      (Translations here)



      ¹I think we can assume that this is also a dedication from Mark to his mother, who conveniently shares an initial with Ms. Lièvre.

      Comment


      • #4
        It's been a while since I've read TWL, so my memory may be playing tricks, but doesn't the Editor's note from the beginning of the Whalestoe letters appendix in HoL appear in TWL? Then there's your link between the two works: the Editors.

        And concerning the new letters: a lot of them can be concieved as rough drafts of letters, or perhaps letters written by Walden himself to play up the connections with HoL (which remains a notable absence from the introduction. Why does he (and especially the Editors) neglect to mention the book?)

        Also, Pelafina mentions letters the new Director holds back. The letters on the pyre could be those. Or perhaps they were letters sent back. . . .

        Walden's tone in the introduction is a bit 'icky' (and reminds me of Johnny's last bit about Thumper in Chapter XXI), and perhaps ties in with the strange type of romance that pervades TWL: the love over distance, insermontable distance. Perhaps "the pain of loving?" The cover has a bit of a Mills and Boon feel to it, doesn't it?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Walden D. Wyrhta
          Waheeda, actually, is the one who brought to my attention the initial publication of those letters you are about to read. I won’t deny it. Had it not been for her, it is doubtful I ever would have come across them.
          His wording is a little odd here, isn't it? Presumably this just means that he was unaware that there were other letters, or at the very least that they had been published, but we are "about to read" the letters he's supplied as well. (Needless to say it hadn't occurred to him to try to contact the addressee of those letters, preferring to keep them to himself).
          The Editors say in their Preface that "there is no direct evidence that any were actually sent". Again this is slightly fuzzy wording, isn't it? It looks like it refers to Walden's letters, but "any" might also refer to all the letters in the collection.

          Originally posted by Walden D. Wyrhta
          ...on the one occasion that Waheeda did meet Pelafina, she instantly confirmed what had taken me weeks to figure out: few get brighter than that.
          What? What took you weeks to figure out, Walden?

          Originally posted by Stencil
          The cover has a bit of a Mills and Boon feel to it, doesn't it?
          Apart from the lack of a beefy, square-jawed guy with a pony-tail, yes I suppose it does.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by fearful_syzygy
            Originally posted by John B.
            Walden's tone in the Introduction is rather proprietary with regard to Pelafina--in fact, a more accurate description, from a psychological standpoint, might be "icky." A couple of conversations, and he's smitten.
            Just as a side-note: this is also evinced by the dedication at the beginning of the book,¹ clearly inspired by this poem by Apollinaire (I can't imagine that this hasn't been noted before, but the search function certainly couldn't find it, so here it is in its entirety
            Indeed

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanks.
              In my defence I will say that I did actually discover this myself (in much the same way as I also invented the game of not stepping on the cracks in the pavement as a child), and I did try searching for "mirabeau" "apollinaire" "demeures" and numerous other words and misspellings but to no avail.

              Comment


              • #8
                On page xiii, Walden refers to the additional letters as “the eleven drafts now included in this publication”. If the letters were drafts, could it be possible that they, or something similar, might have been sent to Johnny?

                Walden refers to Johnny as “the son I would never have the good fortune to meet, or for that matter ever locate …” on page xii, which makes me wonder if he did try to contact Johnny, but was unable to find him.

                Originally posted by Walden D. Wyrhta
                ...on the one occasion that Waheeda did meet Pelafina, she instantly confirmed what had taken me weeks to figure out: few get brighter than that.
                I was under the impression that the comment “few get brighter than that” referred to Waheeda, but could that which took Walden weeks to figure out be that “few get brighter” than Pelafina? The use of colon as punctuation appears to suggest this: the statement “few get brighter” appears to qualify “what had taken me weeks to figure out” … unless I am misreading?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Merouda
                  I was under the impression that the comment “few get brighter than that” referred to Waheeda, but could that which took Walden weeks to figure out be that “few get brighter” than Pelafina? The use of colon as punctuation appears to suggest this: the statement “few get brighter” appears to qualify “what had taken me weeks to figure out” … unless I am misreading?
                  No you're not: if it was referring to Waheeda, surely a full-stop or at the very least a semi-colon would've been used?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thank you, Stencil. I was thinking along the same lines.

                    Originally posted by Stencil
                    Pelafina mentions letters the new Director holds back. The letters on the pyre could be those
                    I hadn’t been taking Pelafina’s claims particularly seriously, but now I wonder, could Pelafina’s letter-snatching paranoia indeed have been based in reality? Walden mentions that the “furniture” from which the alleged fire was made was “unclaimed by employee, relative or neighbor”. Why weren’t the additional letters claimed by Johnny after his mother died? Perhaps he didn’t want them, but since Pelafina makes so many references to the letters being withheld, perhaps they might have been taken by the attendants or the Director after all.

                    Could the version of “You Shall Be My Roots”, on page 565 be some kind of response to the December 24 1988 letter? (“I shall be your roots”/“You shall be my roots”)

                    Reading one version of “You (I) shall by your (my) roots” as a response to the other, however, ended up with them playing like a duet in my head, so I am not sure whether I want to continue with this thought.

                    Since the additional letters are drafts, perhaps Pelafina might have rewritten the letter and sent a different version? Maybe that’s what we see on page 565?

                    At the moment, I can’t really see anything other than vague unsatisfactory possibilities to explain the presence of “You shall be my roots” on page 565.

                    Sorry if this wanders a little further from the point of this thread than is necessary, but while re-reading the December 24 1988 letter, I began to wonder whether “Lyve” (found in "In Losing Your Vision Enlighten Your Own Undertaking”) could be pronounced “leave”? This would result in “I leave you. I love you” which appears to me to make sense in relation to the events within HoL.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      First of all: Happy 100th post, Merouda!
                      I am flattered that you would choose to post it in my thread.

                      Originally posted by Merouda
                      Sorry if this wanders a little further from the point of this thread than is necessary, but while re-reading the December 24 1988 letter, I began to wonder whether “Lyve” (found in "In Losing Your Vision Enlighten Your Own Undertaking”) could be pronounced “leave”? This would result in “I leave you. I love you” which appears to me to make sense in relation to the events within HoL.
                      It's a wonderful idea... but it doesn't work.

                      'Lyve' is an "obs. form of LIEF, LIFE, LIVE v.", and would be pronounced /lΛIv/ rather than /li:v/ I should have thought, unless you were pronouncing it before the great vowel shift (ca. 15th Cent.).
                      'Leave' (as in 'leave of absence' or 'by your leave') comes from the OE lēaf 'permission' and is related to 'lief' (from OE lēof 'dear, pleasant'), and both are etymologically related to 'love', as well.

                      So maybe it does work after all, depending on how old you think Pelafina's roots are.

                      Originally posted by Merouda
                      On page xiii, Walden refers to the additional letters as “the eleven drafts now included in this publication”.
                      Thanks, I had forgotten that little detail.
                      In the April 17, 1983, Pelafina writes "Do not think I did not write you in March. I was just writing badly." (p. 7) That letter leads us to believe that she wrote quite a lot, but that the Director persuaded her not to send her 'notes'. However, Walden provides only one letter written in March 1983, and although it is quite effective in establishing that Pelafina's madness was fairly severe, at least in bouts, even that early on, it nevertheless does not contain any 'themes' which I would consider 'indelicate' for a boy Johnny's age (11). Were these just figments of her imagination like the 'five reams of paper and postage' she mentions on p. 67 (p. 635 in HoL)?
                      Last edited by fearful_syzygy; 05-10-2006, 06:48 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thank you for noticing that I reached 100 posts, f_s. It wasn’t intentional, nor intentionally in a certain thread. It just happened. I think I should be eligible for board marriage in about seven and a half years if I keep this up.

                        Thank you also for responding to my tenuous thought. Indeed, reading “lyve” as “leave” doesn’t quite work like I had first imagined. It also seems to conflict with “I am close. Don’t forget I am here” which immediately precedes “In losing your…”

                        However, in much the same way as I can hear "defenestration" when I read Zampanò’s journal entry of November 11th 1994, unfortunately I can still hear “leave” when I read “In losing your…” - despite the explanation of why I shouldn’t, and as well as being aware of the apparent contradictions within the letter. I think that’s probably more indicative of my perception of HoL at the moment, rather than any actual ‘truth’.

                        “Five reams of paper and postage” appears to me to be somewhat too specific to have been a figment of Pelafina’s imagination. I think that two years at The Whale could plausibly eat up at least five reams of letters and notes, couldn’t it? TWL does not appear to reflect back enough letters between 1986 and 1988, however, was Walden in possession of everything?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Merouda
                          ...in about seven and a half years...
                          You mean five and a half, surely?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by fearful_syzygy
                            Originally posted by Merouda
                            ...in about seven and a half years...
                            You mean five and a half, surely?
                            Yes - that would have made more sense.
                            I wasn't right anyway. I had managed to forget that I was already here.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Merouda
                              “Five reams of paper and postage” appears to me to be somewhat too specific to have been a figment of Pelafina’s imagination. I think that two years at The Whale could plausibly eat up at least five reams of letters and notes, couldn’t it? TWL does not appear to reflect back enough letters between 1986 and 1988, however, was Walden in possession of everything?
                              Yes, what happened to "Everything I sent you in August [1986]", for instance? (p. 618)

                              Comment

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