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The Book of "S", fiction by Doug Dorst and J.J. Abrams, published October 2013, and its connections with B. Traven.


first a couple Dorst links

Reddit ask me anything 7 Mar 2014

Doug Dorst on Reddit - "When I was putting together my proposal for the book, I was reading a book called Contested Will, which is all about the controversy about Shakespeare's identity. (I had been fascinated by a series of essays on the subject that Harper's had published a few years before, too.) I'd heard of the B. Traven mystery but hadn't known the details, so I went looking for them and found them every bit as fascinating. Traven's very much a model for Straka-- I wanted Straka to share Traven's politics but to have been even more widely read, more widely feared, more dangerous to more people. .... What does a person's writing tell us about the person him/herself (if anything)? How and why might a writer project a "true" self into his/her fiction? How and why might a writer seek to project a "false" self into it? I think these are fascinating questions."

Austin Chronicle invterview 9 Dec 2013

Dorst: The beauty of having everything online is that you're, like, twelve keystrokes away from finding whatever thing you want. It's funny – if the sailing stuff came across well, that's great. Because I felt completely out of my element. I stole stuff from Patrick O'Brien and Dominic Smith. Have you read Dominic's Bright and Distant Shores? It's, man, the sailing scenes in that are amazing. And the closest that I came to a lapse in confidentiality, I was so moved by Dominic's book, I was like, "Man, you just nailed those sailing scenes, they're so much better than that hack-ass sailing scene I've done." And then I sent that email, and I was like, "Oh, that was probably a mistake."

Dorst: Which, there are so many tips of the hat I've made – for several different reasons. Because I was invited to write a book-y book, it feels interesting to have a tip-of-the-hat, whether it's one that I'm putting in and leaving uncommented upon, or having a character make, it all can go in there.


Slate Book Review author-editor conversation with JJ Abrams, Doug Dorst and Joshua Kendall - Nov 5, 2013 - discussing the seed-myth

Kendall: Well I can say that the Straka myth, or at least what you both established as the seed of the myth, was already well planted. In a way, a little cult of in-the-know folks had formed, and they were persuasive in their zeal. There was freight there, in other words,

For those readers who want the basic intro to Traven, here are the basics.

BBC video on youtube - Will Wyatt - one hour show - great first look at the mystery of B. Traven's identity, Wyatt almost surely solved one aspect, where was Traven born and therefore what was his upbringing and native language. BBC B. Traven - A mystery Solved

The book based on this video of course is also excellent, with much more depth. and its available very cheaply thru abebooks or amazon. this is the first book to read, and if you only read one. The Man who was B. Traven on abebooks

Another good biography attempt is Karl Guthke "B. Traven, The Life behind the Legends"

i have a description of books available here. My front page to the entire story is here


Ship of Theseus is written by a fictional author named V.M. Straka who has many obvious parallels to B. Traven. According to Straka's translator, known as FXC, who knew him best, "I do not know his height, his weight, his street address, his work history or the paths of his travels." and "I possess no personal information about Straka." B. Traven is obviously a pen name. No one was sure during his lifetime where or when he was born, what his nationality or native language was. Even the man who surfaced late in life that most thought was B. Traven still claimed to his dying day he was not B. Traven, and even if he was, his own past was untraceable. After his death, a BBC producer believed he found his birthplace in present day Poland. Even then many Traven scholars still doubted. A second researcher just recently found further evidence and 90 years after the novels first appeared, it seems confirmed. But lest you think the mystery is solved, the greater mystery for many was not finding the birthplace of the agent, but the real author of the novels.
S Traka B Traven
Straka was a Czech with a Brazilian translator Traven was a German with a Mexican translator
FXC - "focus on the Writer and not the Work dishonors both. ... the author's private life... was and is nobody's business" Guthke p. 17 - quoting Traven essay published prior to release of his first big novel, The Death Ship - "...my life story is my own business and I would like to keep it to myself...The biography of a creative man is completely unimportant. If the man cannot be recognized in his work, then either the man is worth nothing or his works are worth nothing. For that reason, the creative man should have no other biography than his own works."
No one knows anything about the birthplace or time of Straka's translator. Her origins are just as mysterious as Straka's No one knows anything about the birthplace or time of Traven's translator (edit - until her birth record came on line in 2015). Her origins are just as mysterious as Traven's.
Straka wrote a novel called Ship of Theseus where a man with amnesia who cannot remember his past is shanghaied on to a ship. Traven wrote a novel called The Death Ship where a man misses his ship leaving port, has not a dime, or a single identifying paper, and therefore the authorities say for all practical purposes, he does not exist. He has no identity. He gets shanghaied on to a death ship which is scuttled for the insurance money.
Eric the commentator is "expunged" p.10 "some admin signs a form and suddenly you or part of you is just gone." p.15 "you've been expunged, you don't exist." p.100 Traven's main character oversleeps his ship's exit and is left in port with no identity papers. "you simply do not exist" said the official. Much of the early book is a near comical lamentation of modern society requiring identity papers to legitimize personhood. But this was also Traven's lifelong obsession, to exist without papers, without name, without an official history, just to be.
FXC is quoted as saying Straka's best novels are published between 1924 and 1944. Vaclav Straka was born in 1891. Straka's translator FXC was born sometime close to 1910-1912. Traven published virtually everything between 1924 and 1940. Traven declared in his last will and testament that he was born in 1890 ( probably not true). His translator was born in 1907, but this was not known until very recently.
FXC says in FN8 on xi that a condition of correspondence with Straka was that the recipient burn all letters after reading them. Wyatt p. 105 - letter from Traven to Herbert Klein, literary reviewer and author, 1935 - " ...whatever I send you printed or written must be returned inside of three days. Also, all letters I am writing you, this one included. That's my condition. Take it or leave it. B.T." - Klein hand copied the letters before sending them back.
Eric the commentator uses the term erlebnistrager

Erlebnistrager is the favored term for those who believe Traven's anonymity was a ploy for covering up the fact that he stole, borrowed or was given the gist of the stories from someone. Erlebnistrager is German for source or carrier of experience.

the EOTVOS website talks about language analysis of Straka's books to determine his nationality.

J. W. Dominguez is the listed author of the EOTVOS site..

Specualtion on Traven's native language existed all his life and after his death. Baumann wrote a chapter called "The Language Question" where he could not quite decide if Traven was a German who learned English or vice versa.Traven always claimed to be American but most believe he picked up English but never very well.

Don Prudencio Dominguez is the name used by Traven in "General from the Jungle", the last of his major novels, as a stand-in for the actual president of mexico for 30 years, Porfirio Diaz. He is only mentioned by name at the very end of the book.

Dorst - "What does a person's writing tell us about the person him/herself (if anything)? How and why might a writer project a "true" self into his/her fiction? How and why might a writer seek to project a "false" self into it?" The scholars who most strongly believed that Traven (and the man who called himself Croves) did not write the stories by himself are the ones who loved the books but judged the man who emerged late in life was not capable of writing them.

Maelstrom - I wanted to say this means a storm - and in fact "his beard is a maelstrom of black hair," - but its a whirlpool in the sea. with a downdraft. or a tumultous state of affairs, just as in the Poe short story. Maelstrom is the character who has no name but knows everything, or knows more than anybody else. he has instructions. he knows what S. is thinking. he is the only one that can talk. he is in charge. he is physically large and strong. he doesnt have a name. Names are trouble, he says. S. names him and after that we tend to forget that is only the name S. uses for him.

FXC's last words to Eric - don't make the same mistake we did, the implication, dont fight the world, fall in love.

Traven had a lifelong habit of using fake names, to the point that no one knew his real name or if all these names actually pointed to just one person.

Ediciones Tempestad - Esperanza self-publishes a short story in 1943 called "La Carta y el Recuerdo," - The Letter and the Memory. She uses the publishing house imprint, her own production, "Ediciones Tempestad Mexico 1943". This is the subject of a discussion between her and Traven in Jan 1943 on page 324 of Guthke. " A tempest stirs up your soul and mind, all your physical body, it shakes you all over but not to destroy you... after its over you as the whole nature are refreshed...ready to tackle the hardest job. Everybody having read a book published by Editorial Tempestad should feel exactly as he felt after a heavy tempest, clear of mind, younger, ready and willing to conquer the world, daring to write a book ten times better than the one he just read. " What became of the project - La Carta y El Recuerdo. A short story where a man who had been a world traveling revolutionist is tired of chasing trouble wants to give it all up and settle down with a woman.

Eric note p.{ 285}- Turns out she's (FXC) written a bunch of novels. (She said she didn't remember how many; Arturo guessed it was around 30.) Never bothered even to publish. Wasn't interested. She said writing them was enough.

Jen - You should have asked to read one

Eric - I don't think she would have let me.

from B. Traven short story, "The Night Visitor" - exactly the same conversation, a little more drawn out, here is the core similarity.

Gales asks Doc if he has ever written a book. Doc says 18, never published, never tried to publish, what for? a short soliloquy about the inanity of fame.

Gales - I'd like to read the books you wrote. Can I have them? At least one or two of them?

Doc - If i still had them, I guess I wouldn't want you to read them. But I don't have them. They've gone back to where they came from. Eternity, you know. I got full satisfaction out of my books in writing them. In fact, I think I got far more satisfaction than any writer who has had his work published will ever get."

Similarity of dates and Imperia/Imperial -Straka and Traven both traveling under false names within a few weeks of each other. Their literary partners both arriving in new york the same year.

Jen margin note p.{29} Eric!!- I tracked down passenger manifests for every ship that arrived in NY from Brazil b/w 1923-1924. There's no Francisco Caldeira... BUT: There was a Filomela Xabregas Caldeira who showed up often on the crew of the Imperia - as a translator. And on 5/15/24 there was a passenger on the Imperia named S. Opice-Tance.

In 1923, Ret Marut's (Traven) and his female literary and life partner Irene Mermet were trying to leave Europe and get into America. Mermet succeeded but Marut landed in Mexico. She took a ship called the Oscar II to New York from Copenhagen that departed Aug 2, 1923 and arrived Aug 14. Marut took a ship about the same time and landed in Quebec, and was refused entry, went back to England, had some problems with the law for being an unregistered alien, disappeared in the spring of 1924, and appeared in Mexico, actual transit unknown, but very close to the 5/15/24 that Dorst used for Mr. Tance. Traven's first recorded date in Mexico is July 1924, after he changed the entry in his diary from mid-june.

Sailing Manifests

After page 242 of Guthke there is a photo of an envelope Mermet sent Traven, now going as Torsvan, to the Hotel Imperial in Tapachula.

Straka candidate - Torsten Ekstrom, the Swedish author. He was also a friend of Fridtjof Nansen. Torsten is fictional, Nansen is real.

FXC tells us in a footnote that Straka was a mountaineer.

one of Travens main alter-ego/personas was Traven Torsvan, the Norwegian explorer. Esperanza Lopez Mateos was an enthusiastic mountaineer who wrote in a letter that she descended into a volcano pit and placed an honorary plaque for Nansen.
The S. collective is a secretive group of writers that are suspected of being S candidates or collaborating and together forming the entity S. from Wyatt, p.20, " one (theory) had it there was no such person as B. Traven at all...there was no single identity. It was not a matter of examing the lives and works of writers who had disappeared in the hope that one of them might have made a fatal slip and given the secret away...B. Traven was a name only, a nom de plume used collectively by a group of writers, an umbrella beneath which they could jointly shelter. There were supposed to be five of them in all... the Amercan was call MacLean, the Canadian, Theel, the Germans were Brelling...Holthusen... and Wollank"

Straka's translator FXC goes by the pseudonym Ermelinda in later life. She is rumored to be one of the Straka candidates, maybe Straka himself. She died at the age of 100 or more about the time the book margin notes are supposed to have been written, around 2010. She faked her own death in the early 1960's to throw off the dreaded somebody's.


Traven's translator is Esperanza. She died by her own hand in 1951, though astoundingly there is an account that the doctor who signed her death certificate thought it was murder, similar to the Summersby reflection. Esperanza was widely speculated to have been Traven, since she was his public face and that was all that was known. Supposedly her brother while president of Mexico was asked if it was true during a press conference. There were no more Traven books after her death except for one late uncharacteristic novel suspected of being by another author. When I was trying to find Esperanza's birth records, I found an Esperanza Mateos born nearly the same time, who had emigrated into New York in 1945 and died in 2004 in New York. It proved not to be the same one, but at the time anything seemed possible and I paid a few dollars for her records.
The S commentators Eric and Jen found that Ermelinda was in love with Straka and wanted to live with him. Traven's widow said that Esperanza had been in love with Traven and wanted to marry him. The odds of this being true are not good, likely the truth may have been closer to the opposite, but it was a highly conspicuous claim in the book by Jonah Raskin, "My Search for B. Traven".


one of Straka's books is "Hanging the Dead"

"The Santana March"

one of Traven's books is "The Rebellion of the Hanged."

"March to the Monteria"

Protagonist is known only as S Traven signed many of his letters only with B

Straka writes movie director Otto Grahn, who has filmed Straka's book "The Santana March", and says if it were up to him he would set fire to every print of the film. Also that it is an outright lie that he, Straka, was "haunting" the shooting location. Anyone who presented themselves as Straka, he says, was an impostor.

there is a photo of someone at the Santana Film shoot. p.31, Eric says he looks like Maelstrom, bald. Summersby is bald, Summersby may have written Santana, according to Eric p.65


After the filming of "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" by John Huston, Traven, posing as Croves, writes Life magazine and Time (15 March 1948) and states Huston will never be given authority to direct another Traven film. Croves further writes that Huston is mistaken that Croves was Traven working on the set as script consultant, as Traven would not work for the same wages as Croves. Croves was put out that Huston said Croves made no contribution to the film. Huston will never be a great writer, says Croves, because he is a bad observer, having observed that Croves was dressed in faded khakis at the first meeting, which in reality was an immaculate tailored suit.

Humphrey Bogart starred in the movie "Treasure of the Sierra Madre." He named his boat "Santana" and created his own production company, Santana Productions. Jen and Eric realize they both attended the same Bogart movie.

The main pursuit of the margin commentator Eric is resolving the identity of Straka. Who was Straka? FXC writes on the second page of the forward - "Predictably, though disappointingly, the mystery of Straka's identity has become more intensely studied than his body of work."

Traven is the classic mysterious unknown author of the 20th century. The S book has captured not just the author identity mystery but the worldwide search for the identity. The search for the biography of Traven has probably eclipsed interest in the literature of Traven.


After a reference to an ice-pick, Trotsky is mentioned in a footnote for no apparent reason, one of the few factual historical names in the book.

318.9 “This would appear to be a reference to the murder of Trotsky, whom Straka admired. There is no evidence of which I am aware, though, that the two men ever met or corresponded”

Henry Schnautz, who was close to Esperanza and was a subject of two scornful letters from Traven, was a Trotsky guard.

Traven and Trotsky never met or corresponded.

as a footnote to the footnote, the weapon was an ice-ax, as used in mountain climbing, not the more familiar ice-pick.

compare the photos of the Havana fictional death scene of Straka with the actual death scene of Trotsky- the desk, papers on floor, overturned chair, drapery, blood speckled papers, bloody handprint.






Chapter 9 is "Birds of Negative Space". S. meets Sola in an empty room. Sola is the woman S seeks throughout the book.

from a book which pre-dates Ship of Theseus, Pictorial Websters, 2009, by John M. Carrera.


Pictorial Webster's on Amazon

the bird here is a martin (p.228 in the book). apparently "sola" comes from the barely visible inscription lower right.

"Original edition of Pictorial Websters C 2007 by John M. Carrera, Quercus Press"

S meets and loses Sola in the first few pages of Ship of Theseus. She is reading an enigmatic book in a tavern - The Archer's Tales by Arquimedes de Sobreiro.

from wikipedia -

Sobreiro is, along with sobreira, the Portuguese (and old Galician) name for the cork oak tree (Quercus suber)


also in Chap 9, pg 382 "he dreams of a black bird on its back in the snow. its breast pierced by a bullet. what spills from the wound is not the bird's blood but the pigment from its plumage; it seeps into the snow, spreading outward in a black oval.

this image is directly below the one above in the book by John Carrera.

the bird sola is a martin. victor martin summersby is one of the straka candidates. he has a number of traven similarities.


Summersby worked a number of jobs (insurance adjuster, milkman, boxer, piano tuner) and was studying as a seminarian...in 1905, he sold a handful of stories to a horror magazine...He quickly followed with five novels within two years...He wrote several screenplays...Summersby died when he fell from an ocean liner on an Atlantic crossing in 1951...rumored to have occult interests..rumors that Summersby started and/or encouraged to generate publicity and spur book sales.

Traven famously worked many jobs - cotton picker, gold miner, seaman, baker, oil driller, croc hunter, even cow driver, and others, or at least he would have people believe. some of his first stories in the teens had an occult ghostly theme. when he began publishing on a regular basis after 1925, he put out more than a novel a year at first, and a total of 11 in 15 years. When he surfaced as Hal Croves, he concentrated mainly on screenplays, though not successfully. His translator Esperanza committed suicide in 1951, though there is some question. All the anonymity and mystery is thought by many to be a publicity and marketing ploy to generate book sales. As a boy, according to Wyatt, probably reliable, Traven studied for the seminary.


from The Summersby Confession Transcript -Summersby's taped confession that he is the genuine Straka.

"Every writer worth one damn is more than one voice – more than one self."..."Maybe I’m not the one you wanted."

If Summersby is Moody's candidate, then naturally readers of S do not want or expect Summersby to be Straka. He is the obvious not likely choice.

Eric wants Vaclav Straka, but Eric thought FXC was a male hack until Jen got involved for 29 pages. Jen is "loving summ" on page 378, chapter Birds of Negative Space. also has good things to say about Singh.

p. 388 jen is having no luck on chapter code, maybe there is some other kind of message, says eric.

Traven's wife who knew him late in life said he had a split personality, more than one person.

The Hal Croves personality surfaced during the filming of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre claiming he was the agent and close personal friend of B. Traven. Many people who loved the Traven books did not believe that Hal Croves was the man, could be the man, behind them. One of the early respected Traven scholars Michael Baumann probably wasted his reputation insisting there had to be someone else - Hal Croves could not be the great author.

the words Palimpsest (p379 Birds chapter) and Xebec are prominent in The Ship of Theseus. Palimpsest is on page 436 of "Pictorial Websters" just two pages before the birds above. There are 3 illustrations of a Xebec on page 406.
ARP Syndikat is corporation of the villain Bouchard

p. 472 Jean Hans Arp, Dada Surrealist in the art (defined as anything that doesn't make money) abstract dictionary which closes the book (hard to describe but its in there).

1912 – Roughly when F.X.C. was born http://justingarver.com/timeline-of-s/

if true she would have been 12 when she became Straka's exclusive translator in 1924

Henry Schnautz thought Esperanza was born in 1913. A baptism certificate only recently found indicates 1907.
Pictorial Websters, 2009, by John M. Carrera. acknowledgments on page 483 - "First I extend thanks to both of my grandmothers. ... the wider dimensions of this project are inspired by Caroline Carrera and her siblings quest to seek knowledge in all places with the noble purpose of helping humanity." Caroline Carrera is Henry Schnautz's sister. If Traven is the model for Straka, Esperanza Lopez Mateos is the model for FXC. Below is a photo of Caroline Carrera at her front door with Esperanza Lopez Mateos in 1947.
here are two photos I took in 2008 of the house Henry and Caroline grew up in - the Schnautz house. It is unknown when the monogram over the front door was put in place, possibly even before 1949 when "The Ship of Theseus" was published. The house is gone now. It was sold and taken down, but preserved. Under the siding was a log house from the 1800's. It is being rebuilt somewhere at a public park in the plains states.

for a few more photos of henry and his home, including the attic where many old letters were found, see this album.



Some additional observations on the book (comments i made on mystimus book site) after a recent read-thru

Who is the lady on the obsidian island?

i took the lady on the island to being a sure reference to floris of bruges. the margin note on 278 mentions erasmus discovering the black mountain, an axis mundi, a place where heaven and earth connect. this all comes to fruition a few pages later, the lady has a similar biography as the real erasmus, except erasmus narrowly avoiding being burned. erasmus was the world’s first best-selling author (after invention of the printing press) who mocked the pope, yet stayed faithful to the institution. he belongs in a book on a secret society of writers who challenge authority. floris of bruges was martyred, burned alive, first time unsuccessfully, according to margin note on 286, because she exposed abuses of power mostly in the church. according to the eotvos website of candidates, the florence who claimed to channel floris, odds a million to one, had lifelong claims first by her parents and then by herself to be straka. she died in 1983. the mere fact that this is all physically impossible does not matter in this book which experiences many such impossibilities and emphasizes that stories are somehow out of time. if straka did not die in havana then a central question is, when did he/she die? bruges and erasmus birthplace rotterdam are both in belgium.

another question connected to the obsidian island, this is a mythical place in a book, yet obsidian artifacts seem to have great appeal in the jen-eric world and be very rare. where did they originate and who collected them?

The Way out was down, is down.

S refers to defenestration as “re-education”. in james joyce portrait of the artist, there is a well known paragraph where stephen dedalus makes his life turn and declares he will fall, repeating it several times, falling, falling, falling, because it is to find his own way. the agents, we read in S do what they are told. daedalus in greek mythology is the builder of the labyrinth where the minotaur was held and where theseus killed it. daedalus was a builder who made the wings that his son used to fly too high and fell to his death. falling is how the anti-S signifies that one has lost his way and enforces orthodoxy.

this is the tradition of story telling. late in the book S says he realizes he is telling stories that exist out of time. like Sobreiro. Dorst mission was to write a 20th century classic. Like Joyce's classic, he drew on greek mythology, a story telling tradition of thousands of years.

T.S. Eliot the Wasteland, also in S, is another 20th century re-telling of an old story, the 12th century Grail and Wasteland stories.

Dorst - its a booky-book. a love letter to the written word.

the counterpoint to falling is flying, birds are immune from the fear of falling, the S collaborators are all birds… when S falls from the cave with Corbeau he says at no time does this feel like flying, only falling.

A Love Letter to the Written Word.

the tradition is the 3000 year old writers tradition. all the people going down in to the orlop are writers, their mouths are sewn shut. writers challenge authority. its an historically dangerous craft. sobreiro is writing and making himself an enemy of authority. the bird feather is a pen and also guides the arrow. nothing is more dangerous to the status quo than a writer.

Straka refers to the S symbol as serpentine. He finds the symbol in the deepest part of the cave. The serpent appears from holes in the earth. A serpent is in the oldest literary works, gilgamesh and genesis.

the cave, orlop, both go down to write, the way out is down, that is the tradition. theseus maze, tunnels under psu, the wine cellar. dorst is re-using mythological symbols, which are themselves the creations of writers thousands of years old. Riding the maelstrom is going down.

“a love letter to the written word” can be taken literally. the obsidian island is a particularly bookish chapter. captain erasmus is noted as having found the axis mundi. the black mountain. erasmus was an enormous figure in renaissance literature. martin luther desperately wanted his endorsement.( i believe that story is in manchester – a world lit only by fire). erasmus barely kept one step ahead of the inquisition. he had to move to england at one point. he criticized the church, just as the central figure in the chapter did, floris of bruges, the old woman in the book room. the inclusion of floris confuses jen and eric, what exactly is straka saying, that a long dead figure was in the S? part of the tradition? says jen. she shows him the book with the xebec, chronicling the changes, is it the same ship he asks himself. floris tells him about choices. another key theme. and he chooses to go back to the ship and become the writer in the orlop. he ends the chapter rising above himself and looking back at his own eyes.

origin of the symbol S directly referenced on page 350. “The origin of the imperative, that supposed to (italicized), remains as much a mystery to him as the origin of the symbol.” The impulse to correct wrongs - what is the origin of the feeling of how things are supposed to be and that I should do something to make them that way?


another S, another Story.

Maelstrom -

maelstrom is a puzzle, an outlier. all the other characters have straka-world identities. stenfalk is ekstrom, corbeau is durand, vevoda is bouchard. there is no speculation at all like that about maelstrom. maelstrom has his own language. he knows things. he knows his mission. he is a unique character. on the opposite side, i dont think there is any sot identity for summersby. both names have nine letters. jen and eric dont seem to make many comments about maelstrom, what he represents or where he came from. "maelstrom is different. vms is clear about that". p28. does he have any straka world identity? maelstrom is an ally of S but not a bird.



basic questions
if straka did not die in havana in 1946, then there must be an actual date somewhere in the book or associated material when he did die.
does summersby have a stand-in in ship of theseus? the pine marten?
what is the significance of birds of negative space?
there seems to be plenty of mysticism in theseus, seeing at a distance, time warping, possibly reincarnation, visions, voices. intuition not rationality. mutable personalities. early in the book fxc says straka would scoff at the occult, thus he could not be summersby, but this seems to be a contradiction with the book that straka wrote.

who is the man with the scar on his face who shanghai's S? a note p.28 says Summersby was injured by shrapnel in WWI
why do animals not like S? is he a snake? just a wild thought. margin note 143, also pine marten and hotel marten on same page

is the S symbol legitimately ancient, at least in straka world and eric-jen world, it seems to pre-date the 20th century. how can a logical story be put together to explain what it stand for if it is not english dependent? in Straka world it first appeared on the title page of braxenholm, fn 180, a book claimed to have been written by Stoneham-Smith. is it related to ancient spirals? in Straka world the S symbol seems to represent Story. some of the oldest written symbols (signs) are double spirals that look like S's

in the jen-eric comments, SOT is fundamentally a classic love versus duty story p102, until the 5th generation comments when they determine that Signe is Straka's daughter. Then they realize that Straka could not be with FXC and take the risk of leading trouble to her just as he did Ekstrom and possibly Durand. However FXC never reaches this conclusion, and it is for her a love story but a sad love story. "Dont make the same mistake, you dont have to figure everything out."


A key reference in SOT is Arquimedes de Sobreiro book "The Archer's Tales." It is a much sought after object of intrigue.

Archimedes is the greatest mathematician of antiquity, the general period of Theseus. Archimedes is of Syracuse, the same number of letters as Sobreiro. Sobreiro seems to point to the Portuguese cork tree, Quercus suber, the cork of the wine bottle.

Looking up Archimedes in a dictionary would show Archer nearby.

The book that contains the quote "Sola (a bird, a martin) contemplates the beauty of negative space" was published by Quercus Press.

Quercus is a large genus of trees chiefly Oak. The archer uses an arrow of bird feathers to guide. Apparently obsidian is a traditional material for the arrowhead. and of course the shaft is tree. What does it all mean? Perhaps the author just loves free association and crossword puzzles.

The greek letter sigma is used in mathematics to signify a sum of many iterations. The ship of theseus is a ship incrementally repaired, parts of it replaced, over a long period of time. is it the same ship if no original parts remain? Is a self continuously changed over time the sum of the changes or something completely different than the starting point?
At the end of the book, Jen and Eric are in Prague looking for some record that Vaclav Straka survived beyond his 1910 jump. It was not discovered until 98 years after his birth that B. Traven was born not far from there in Schwiebus Poland. Traven wanted fame but not familiarity. Traven was Otto Feige. Does that tell us anything? Straka was Straka, we think. Straka is a fictional character. We look for clues of his "true" identity in his story. If we find it, thats that. There is still something about the monkey we dont know.