Thursday, September 29, 2011

A couple of thoughts

I've been rereading Queen Zixi of Ix today for a special project I'm working on, and two thoughts occurred to me just reading Chapter 1:

1) Here's a quote from the book about the manufacture of the cloak:

The garment was as beautiful as it was marvelous--each and every hue of the rainbow glinted and sparkled from the soft folds; and while it was light in weight as swan's down, its strength was so great that the fabric was well-nigh indestructible.

If it's nigh indestructible, how could it be cut up later in the book?

2) We learn that Ereol is the fairy guardian of the old King of Nole. Who, then, are the guardian fairies of the other characters in the book, and why don't they intercede as the events unfold?

[EDIT: Here are some comments from Ruth Berman, who is great at thinking about these sorts of things, and has been doing it for a lot longer than I have:

I think "indestructible" has to be taken as reading "indestructible under conditions of normal wear," i.e., it'll never wear out. (And maybe inflammable?) But not meaning uncuttable. (How about untearable? -- I'd guess probably yes. And you probably could't pull the "Superman Comcs" trick of unraveling and re-weaving the threads, because the spell was put on it by the fairies' original weaving, so I'd imagine that undoing the weaving would undo the spell.)

Why guardian fairies other than Ereol for the King didn't help the other characters -- maybe they did unseen? Or possibly we should imagine that the fairies keep general watch over humans, but don't assign specific fairies to specific humans except for humans who affect whole countries'-worth of other humans, as kings do.


Hmm, okay. Food for thought. And thanks for the other comments, everyone.]


Jared said...


Anonymous said...

The cloak was cut with magical scissors, of course. Magic can do _anything_ but, by its very nature, leads to contradictory things.

- Mari