Thursday, 11 July 2013

Continuing To Reread The Day Of Their Return

Throughout The Day Of Their Return, Poul Anderson consistently maintains the diverse speech patterns of the different Aenean communities. Jao tells Ivar that a long wooden box found floating on the river "'...was one coffin...,'" not "a coffin." (Captain Flandry, Riverdale NY, 2010, p. 169) Gabriel Stewart remembers Tatiana Thane "' bold lass...,'" not "as a bold lass." (p. 171) These minute details contribute in small ways to the author's presentation of authentic characters whose multifarious social backgrounds affect their use of Anglic. Tinerans also speak Haisun and the Kuang Shi, riverfolk, speak something else - Chinese?

Anderson makes much more out of Ivar's river journey in this novel than he does of Diana Crowfeather's comparable journey in The Game Of Empire:

"Herding on the Flone was an ideal task...Exertion and alertness kept a person fully alive, while nevertheless letting him enter into that peace, beauty, majesty which was the river." (p. 168)

"'All our dead go down the Sea of Orcus.'" (p. 169)

When, after flowing through the lake of the Green Bowl, the stream narrows between cliffs and boulders:

"Water brawled, foamed, spouted off rocks, filled air with an ongoing cannonade..." (p. 177)

The river ends in:

"...its final incredible plunge off the continental rim..." (ibid.)

Two other points to note:

First, events central to an earlier novel are tangential to this one. Gabriel informs Tatiana that some Terran agent had rescued Admiral McCormac's wife and stolen the rebels' codes... Regular readers know who the Terran agent was.

Secondly, the expressions of Aenean religiousness continue to proliferate. Earlier, we saw that one Aenean had rejected heathen talk of Oneness under the Morning Star but then had wondered whether the Aeneans might be God's chosen instrument for cleansing the Empire. Next, another churchgoer combines "Ancients" eschatology with Biblical language when he, with many others, hopes "'...that Elders will come back soon, bearin' Word of God.'" (p. 107)

He asks:

"'Can so many people be entirely wrong? They are many, I'll tell you.'" (ibid.)

Yes, they can be wrong if the cause of their hope is irrational though powerful. Here, the suggestion is that the belief continues to spread because it has already been spreading.

A tineran woman attempts a simple apologetic:

"'...there's got to be High Ones. This much joy can't just have happened.'" (p. 148)

But Ivar has the answer for that:

"Non sequitur, my dear. To us this is beautiful because certain apes were adapted to same kind of weather, long ago on Terra." (ibid.)

- although even he adds: "It's bleak, believin' in nothin' except accident." (ibid.)

There is another tineran non sequitur:

"'Whatever the High Ones are, they're as near godhood as makes no difference.'" (p. 141)

Ivar thinks that that does not follow but also wonders why the belief is almost universal on Aeneas.

The Kuang Shi seek allness, unity and harmony through rites and symbols. Thus:

the River = fate;
the Sun = life;
Moons and Stars = the transhuman;
Ivar Frederiksen = the Aenean leader who will cast out the Terrans and prepare for the promised Advent.

Gabriel Stewart goes further. Ivar is the Aenean leader and Tatiana is his bride who will bear his son that the coming Builders will make more than human. Thus, according to Gabriel (a relevant name), the political and spiritual leaderships of the movement will converge. It feels as though we are in the opening chapters of Luke's Gospel, with the Angel Gabriel appearing to Mary.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Just a quick comment on the last paragraph. The growing political/relgious movement we were seeing on Aeneas reminded me far more of how Islam began. With Ivar being cast in the mold of a political messiah (and Jaan more analogous to Mohammed).


Paul Shackley said...

Yes, like Islam. And the fact that a jihad was supposed to result clinches the parallel. I also think that the expected Return and the way Gabriel speaks to Tatiana resemble Jewish Apocalyptic.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Exactly! The parallel to Islam was the example mentioned by Aycharaych himself, I believe, according to Erannath. One Commissioner Desai made as well during his discussion with Ivar and Tatiana in Chapter 21 of THE DAY OF THEIR RETURN. Yes, I agree in seeing a touch of Jewish like apocalypticism in Gabriel's remarks to Tatiana.