Longtime “S” fan Adam Laceky has pointed out the following intriguing theory that the Toronto Review article on The Burning Word is actually a secret message from FXC to VMS.
This insert originally appears between pp 20-21 in Ship of Theseus. Jennifer Heyward provides the insert for Eric Husch to convince him that The Archer’s Tales is a real book (see marginalia on p21).
Note the publication’s title at the bottom of the page: Toronto Review for History and the Humanities, Vol. 1:1 1954. This is the first volume and first issue. Possibly the only issue. And it is published in Toronto.
If you note the title page in Ship of Theseus, FXC notes that Winged Shoes Press has two locations – one in New York City and the other in Toronto, Canada. In 1954, FXC would have been five years into her promise to VMS that she would wait ten years for him before she returned “home” to Maraú, Brazil (see symbols and marginalia on p184). Her only means of communicating with him, if he were indeed still alive, would be in the hidden messages of Ship of Theseus published five years earlier and in other public messages that would capture his attention. An article published in a previously nonexistent publication on The Archer’s Tales from a location where FXC is known to have an office would do just that.
To lend further credence that the author of the Toronto Review article is FXC, Adam points out that the footnote is in the same style as FXC’s work in Ship of Theseus.
So what is the hidden message?
FXC (assuming this is her) mentions a variety of dates and locations. Her dates are interesting. The 1759 fire that destroyed San Tadeo, according to the review, could be an allusion to the fire in Stockholm, Sweden, that occurred on July 19, 1759, that injured 19 people and destroyed the spire of the Maria Magdalene Church there.
Stockholm also had another major fire in 1625 – on September 1 (9/1). This date is 9/1/1625. In Europe, it might be annotated as 1/9/1625. Now where have we seen that date before?
In Ship of Theseus, when S goes missing in the Winter City, Sola comes looking for him. She finally finds him because it was the only place left (p391). On p387, just before S finds Sola on the ninth floor of the building in front of which he now stands, he discovers a plaque buried in ice on the sidewalk.
January 9, 1625, is 1/9/1625. But in Europe, as Adam points out, this could represent September 1, 1625. Since the marginalia gives no indication that this plaque was not represented in the original manuscript written by VMS, we can conclude that VMS is the one who created this.
This could mean that VMS was trying to tell FXC that, should he ever be missing, that he would reconnect with her in Stockholm, Sweden – mostly likely on September 1 – the anniversary of the 1625 fire.
But if she is to meet him in Stockholm on 9/1 of any given year, where is she to meet him.
In the 1759 fire, the spire of the Maria Magdalene Church was destroyed. In the Bible, Mary Magdalene was the first person to see Jesus alive – even though she thought he was dead. Perhaps then FXC is to be the first to recognize that VMS is alive when he is otherwise thought to be dead – at this sacred place.
Perhaps FXC wrote the Toronto review to say that she recognized VMS’s call for a reunion in Stockholm – and that she would be there in 1954.
And what final clue do we have that FXC may have known about the Stockholm connection all along?In the Chapter 10 cipher, all of the locations that FXC left us work out perfectly in the EOTVOS wheel to reveal her message – except one.
The letters from the missing column correlate to the sixth footnote (Calais, France) and give us the letters XBTUP. But those letters do not work in the cipher. Only the letters LONOE, which lead us to Maraú, Brazil – FXC’s final destination. But surely XBTUP still means something? Not only does it point to Calais (it all goes back to Calais), but the same letters arise when we punch in the GPS coordinates to Stockholm, Sweden, on the EOTVOS wheel.
Was FXC trying to communicate that she understood the Stockholm message from VMS in Chapter 9 (Bird of Negative Space) and the plaque in the Winter City? And, more importantly, is it possible that FXC reconnected with VMS in Stockholm sometime between 1949 and 1959 and the two were able to reunite?
Adam Laceky did a fantastic job uncovering these possibilities. And they are definitely worth considering.