Chapter 37 – Training
Although this chapter (and a number of immediately previous chapters) appears to be part of a single long period of the novel (judging by the space taken to tell it), it is in fact a relatively short period in real time compared to the hurly burly of years represented by earlier chapters in the first half of the novel. However, this current period is no stodgy oasis, if one fully appreciates that it is a new hurly burly told mainly by dialogue and incident and crafted narrations of narrations, a kaleidoscope of costumes (armour, dance etc), weapons (morning star, spanking hand, anachronous machine gun etc), the wonderfully conveyed subtle relationships (eg Tuerqui / Fluff / Bob Bosset (Bobbikins)), the emotions/ snookums / whore training, the festivals (Solstice, New Year), the plain role-playing, the role-playing of role-playing (!), the jealousies of attention (eg Modesty Clay), the dance of history, provenance, tradition, alternate world, war - as well as the dance of body movement and sex. A hurly burly, true, but a narrative that is well-aimed straight down a fast tube ... towards the breathless reader.
This reminds me of the morning star’s symbol as Tuerqui’s double-edged narration itself:
That day, Bob Bosset introduced us to the morning star. The spiked ball on the end of the chain weighed a great deal more than I expected, and proved difficult to control. Had it not been for the coordinated dance moves, I felt sure that I’d have injured myself with it. As it was, none of us hurt ourselves, but neither did we make much progress toward becoming mistress of the weapon.
Two other passages from the rich choice of exemplary passages:
Imagining myself riding into Surrey clad in padded leather and light steel cuirass, it seemed real for the first time. With little effort, I could visualise arriving at the University of Pain clad as a warrior. What would Tuerquelle make of me, or Lady Isobel? Smiling, I pictured my daughter’s eyes – round with wonder.
After changing, we set off for Eric Marsh’s armoury – an ill assorted group. Tipsi, Diqui and Barguin were in coarse shirts, leather jerkins and tightly fitted breeches – they looked like pantomime ruffians.
 Pantomime ruffians – the pantomime was a humorous stage play. One characteristic was that the parts of ugly women were played by men, and young men by attractive girls. Tipsi, Barguin and Diqui looked like attractive girls playing the part of young male ruffians.
Didn’t really follow the sense here:
It seemed to me better for their relationship if each believed her or himself the first to whom I’d spoken.
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