DFL’S COMMENTS ON ‘ODALISQUE’ BY PF JEFFERY
Chapter 11 - Pregnancy
Many wonderful touches in the poignant scenes of pregnancy & childbirth. Tuerqui now has a daughter: Tuerquelle.
The artful whip-making, too, during pregnancy, is a detailed world all in itself: only this novel could treat of this or even dream of this in such a loving manner.
Some snippets that attracted me;
Alarmed, I placed my bowl on the floor. It was common knowledge that slaves were given drugs in their swill designed to promote docility. That much seemed acceptable – and inevitable. The idea of affecting an unborn child in the same way was another matter.
[Does the above mean that Tuerqui’s feistiness is wishful thinking on behalf of the narrator?]
Looking her in the eye, I saw that she did – indeed – have a freedom denied to the rest of us. For that I envied her. Continuing to gaze, I saw that there was a loneliness, too – denied the company of her kind. My envy was mingled with sympathy – and a strong sexual attraction – she was amongst the loveliest slaves I’d seen.
Something deeper drew me to Whipfelle, as I slowly realised during the following weeks. Having yet to frame the thought, at some level I recognised that my unborn child would have much in common with my companion. Whipfelle’s happiness reassured me. A mother needs hope for her baby.
Later, I was to discover that many pregnant bondlings comfort themselves with fantasies of escape or rescue for their unborn children. While they dream such nonsense, they pass the special spices to their wombs, ensuring that that their babies will no more desire personage than did Whipfelle. Lying to myself has never been my way, and I needed to be content that my child would share Whipfelle’s inner serenity.
Once the first whip of my pregnancy was complete, I found myself assigned to make an ante-natal one, as used by our overseers. It was a delicate instrument, designed to correct – as befitted a slave – without damaging the unborn child. It was a relief to know that, however much my faults required a chiding lash, my baby would not suffer. The result of my work pleased me – a thing of beauty, and exquisitely painful.
Regarding the coarse elided dialogue of the slave Muqui – not sure if this entirely worked. And is she the exception that proves the rule regarding slaves not speaking coarsely?
a tear in token my parting from Lady Nerys
Word docs of the actual chapters are freely available to readers of this blog.
The links to all Chapter comments by me are here: http://weirdmonger.blogspot.com/2008/06/odalisque.html
Submitted by Pet at 7/15/2008 9:15:28 AM
On Tuerqui's feistiness (or otherwise) she does seem more feisty after (in Chapter 28) entering a phase of her life during which she's unlikely to have received drugs to promote docility. I suppose, in any case, such matters are relative, rather than absolute. In Chapter 11, Muqui and Slutte seem imperfectly docile. In Chapter 12, we come to the curious reflection that drinking slaves' milk doesn't make Berenice Blackheart at all docile.
I think that Muqui is the only slave in the entire book to be represented as talking coarsely. I suppose she is so represented to illuminate the Muqui/Slutte dispute -- and to show how snobbery and inverted snobbery may persist after enslavement. Was that a matter worthy of (brief) exploration? I'm not sure.
Thanks for revealing the typo. Strange how these escape my eye on repeated proof reading.