The Epilogue gives no authorship of itself and mentions PF Jeffery, ie: the person I know in real life who supposedly wrote ‘Odalisque’ as a whole, ie: the person who wrote about Tuerqui as a simple story or plot for our entertainment - or empathised with (became?) Tuerqui for the purpose of this novel - or always was Tuerqui until the Fiction (Magic Fiction?) revealed this co-identity. [Perhaps I created PF Jeffery! He appeared as a commentator in my 1974 novel ‘The Visitor’. In all seriousness, we are brushing against various truths here with each alternative of the Narrative's pecking-order (and more we have not yet thought about) and each is true, none are true, all are true.]
This Epilogue was in fact written by Jennifer Petrie (I recall) and she, in Odalisque’s future, gives an interesting (albeit possibly dry) bibliographical / historical view of the text we have just been reading. This sets up many tantalising thoughts in the reader and seems neatly to encapsulate and rationalise and make believable the text and its intrinsic as well as potentially apocryphal credo as fiction-reality.
To give a flavour here are some exemplary passages:
Almost a tenth of Tuerqui’s manuscript seems to be missing, and we have relied entirely on the P F Jeffery notebooks to supply the lost portions.
What is more, the manuscripts are not preserved in the correct sequence of pages, and are mixed with several other texts. Without the transcripts, placing the text in the right order would have been an enormously difficult task.
The papers believed to be in Tuerqui’s hand were amongst the manuscripts to be bound in royal blue leather about two hundred and fifty years after they were written. There are 127 such volumes, with Tuerqui’s handwriting scattered almost throughout. The neat exterior of the books belies the chaos inside. The confusion is compounded by the fact that each volume is made up of sheets of the same size paper. Tuerqui wrote on sheets of several different sizes, possibly with an eye to economy – this leads to adjacent pages being widely scattered. At one point, four consecutive pages are in volumes 114, 23, 119 and 6.
Also my responsibility are the idiosyncrasies of the notes. The empire has changed a great deal since Tuerqui’s time, and some points do need clarification for the modern reader. It is often difficult to judge what notes may be useful or necessary, and I am aware of having been inconsistent as to what requires comment and what may be passed in silence. Two chapters seemed to me too beautiful to be marred by my explanations.
Lisa-Louise went on to become a prominent pioneer photographer, specialising in portraits. Many of her pictures survive, including some of Lady Isobel and her concubines. These images must include Tuerqui, but her face has not been identified with certainty. Some years ago, Kimberly Price advanced convincing arguments to identify all of the slaves in the pictures. These identifications were generally accepted until, two years ago, Louise Grey magnified one of the images to discover the letters ‘Pa’ on what was supposed to be Tuerqui’s right thigh – making this, fairly certainly, a photograph of Passibelle.
Should not this be ‘governessship’ or ‘governess-ship’?
may fall in the wrong the place
in the twenty-third regnal year of Bernice I,
The page which gives the links for all my comments on this novel here:
has a brief introduction which I wrote early in my reading of ‘Odalisque’ but after reading the first 29 chapters of ‘Of Bondlings & Blesh’ immediately prior to it becoming ‘Odalisque’, both of which versions of the novel derived from ‘Slave Girl of Surrey’ that was written by PF Jeffery to me over several years (?) serialised amid weekly handwritten letters during the eighties and then revised by him as a whole (I seem to recall) in the early nineties. O Jennifer Petrie, I need you, to sort all this out, if I’m wrong! In any event (without further beating about the bushibelle) my original sentence on that link page:-
I believe in ODALISQUE as a great fantasy/horror novel (spiritual, grotesque and humorous), but I am still in the personal throes of grappling with its strangely powerful (for me, almost alien) ethos -- greatly assisted by its beautifully silky style of expression.
is still appropriate. I think the ‘grappling’ was (is still) part of the pleasure of this novel by PF Jeffery and of its undeniable greatness. (Such grappling is probably only one slight remove from tumbling-with-text...)