Re: What means "Consider Phlebas"?

From: Damien Broderick (
Date: Wed Oct 25 2000 - 19:50:25 MDT

At 08:44 PM 25/10/00 -0400, Eliezer wrote:

>Al Billings wrote:
>>I think it is by Keats but I could be wrong.

Not Keats but Chapman.*

>T.S. Eliot, "Death by Water" in "The Waste Land".

According to my uncorrected 1987 proof copy of the Macmillan edition, this
sad tale is drawn from Eliot's famous poem `The Waste Lane'. Prior to the
invention of sewers, such lanes were found behind every row of town houses,
for the ease of handling indecorous materials out of view of those who
fancied T. S. Eliot's work.

>Phlebas the Phoencian, a fortnight dead [...]

> Gentile or Jew
> O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,
>Remeber Phlebas, who was once as handsome and tall as you.

Yes, it's all about that little-known citizen of Phoence, Remeber Phlebas.
Poor Remeber was a shapeshifter but once forgot his mother's warning and
made a horrid face while the wind changed, and so was stuck looking like
Marty Feldman.

Scholars originally speculated** that the working title must have been
`Consider Phlebitis', since like Oedipus, Remeber suffered from leg
problems. (Everyone else had three, he was stuck with two.) Later it was
decided that I. M. Banks, a notorious punster, was actually inviting a
creative misreading: `Consider Fleabites',*** a reference simultaneously to
James Joyce's celebrated `agenbite of inwit' (the pangs of gnawing
conscience) and the agonies suffered by any traveler in a strange and
inhospitable land, especially a stranger with one leg shorter than the other.

* Journal of Preposterous Irish Jokes, 1888, Vol 2, No. 8, p. 7843.
** Journal of Stupid Literary Theory, 1988, Vol 28, No. 4, pp. 34-87.
*** Quarterly Journal of Really Stupid Critical Practise, 1998, Vol. 4, No.
28, pp. 37-84.

Damien Broderick

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon May 28 2001 - 09:50:18 MDT