TCD Question #20 ~ Irene Adler

by Arturo Perez-Reverte

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TCD Question #20 ~ Irene Adler

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sat Aug 23, 2008 4:47 pm

Who, or what, is Irene Adler?

Why do you suppose the author chose that name for the character?


Sorry to be so late today! I ended up having to work and didn't have today's question with me. :blush:
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Re: TCD Question #20 ~ Irene Adler

Unread postby gemini » Sat Aug 23, 2008 7:16 pm

A woman admired by Sherlock Holmes is undoubtedly special. Since she was gifted and thought to be witty and intelligent by Holmes she seemed to be qualified enough to be the girl in TCD.
I think Perez Reverte wanted to give us a character that had all the answers.
Since she seemed to know and be all....... I thought she was more than just a girl and agreed with Corso that she was the fallen angel.
Last edited by gemini on Mon Aug 25, 2008 9:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: TCD Question #20 ~ Irene Adler

Unread postby Parlez » Sat Aug 23, 2008 9:13 pm

I've been thinking about this character ever since I first read the book...maybe too much. I get the connection with the name, since according to Doyle/Holmes, Irene is a singular individual who sort of epitomizes woman in an archetypal way, atleast based on her being the only female Holmes ever encountered who had the ability to get the better of him.
But I'm stuck on Perez-Reverte's description of his Irene...particular the fact that she is so tan. He says so every time he describes her. What's that about I wonder? I await you guys' insights on that one!
To me, the movie and the book take two completely different paths as far as telling who or what Irene really was in the end...can we talk about the end now??
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Re: TCD Question #20 ~ Irene Adler

Unread postby Liz » Sat Aug 23, 2008 11:34 pm

Parlez wrote: But I'm stuck on Perez-Reverte's description of his Irene...particular the fact that she is so tan. He says so every time he describes her. What's that about I wonder? I await you guys' insights on that one!
To me, the movie and the book take two completely different paths as far as telling who or what Irene really was in the end...can we talk about the end now??

NO! :lol: You can tell us what or who you really think she is, though. :angel:

I still say she is more like Irene Adler (Destiny) from the X-Men. That character could predict the future, which we think “The Girl” knows. And it caused Destiny to be blind—which makes me think of The Girl’s eyes. And in Destiny's diaries I think she talked about the “books of truth”.

Maybe she's tan because Hell gives off rays just as the sun does? I have no clue. :lol:
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Re: TCD Question #20 ~ Irene Adler

Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Sun Aug 24, 2008 2:44 am

I found who she was quite confusing. At times she seemed to be an Angel at others as has been said a fallen Angel one of the Devils soldiers. I guess becasue I am still confused by the books ending as much as by the films. Is she trying to redeem herself by protecting Corso? or is she helping him to his goal whatever that is. Definetly she seems to be helping him to his final end in the film so I get confused by the book. She definatley seems more like an Angel trying to redeem herself .
I probably am completly off here. I won't be around for a few days .

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Re: TCD Question #20 ~ Irene Adler

Unread postby Endora » Sun Aug 24, 2008 6:25 am

I would put her as a fallen angel, maybe as the devil. She has a discusion with Corso at one point about which version of the devil he likes best...neither agree with the melodramatic red fire breathing sort. That, to me, built towards her being the devil because it meant the devil could be sort of ordinary, lost in the world and largely dispassionate.

The description? Quite honestly I think it's bad writing. It wasn't necessary to labour the tan skin, green luminous eyes, seeming much younger/older than she was so much. I think we were getting to know more about what sort of woman the author liked than learning about Corso's likings. I know that for the virtually alcoholic and out of condition 45 year old Corso to find himself with this perfect girl needed some emphasis, but it was overdone, I thought.
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Re: TCD Question #20 ~ Irene Adler

Unread postby suec » Sun Aug 24, 2008 7:09 am

I agree, Endora. I like your interpretation of the dispassionate devil.

In the SH story, Irene Adler is the ultimate woman: beautiful, passionate, kind, intelligent, quick-witted, audacious: able to outwit Sherlock Holmes himself. There’s a duality, a contradiction about her. Although she is SH’s adversary, she ultimately shows herself to be respected and trusted because her honour is believed in. Her word is good enough.
She is a woman in love, and that emotion appears to influence every decision she makes. At first she threatens SH’s client because he has decided to marry another, but then it is revealed that she marries someone else whom she loves and I think, working from memory, that she makes a point of commenting on his love for her too. When she suspects that Sherlock Homes (in disguise) has managed to trick her, she disguises herself, cross-dressing to check on him. This is something else that rings a few bells for me with the girl’s androgynous appeal. She’s potentially very dangerous, but not necessarily malignant. How much of this is relevant to A R-P’s Irene is anybody’s guess. But all of the echoes are quite interesting for me.
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Re: TCD Question #20 ~ Irene Adler

Unread postby Anna » Sun Aug 24, 2008 7:45 am

Endora wrote:The description? Quite honestly I think it's bad writing. It wasn't necessary to labour the tan skin, green luminous eyes, seeming much younger/older than she was so much. I think we were getting to know more about what sort of woman the author liked than learning about Corso's likings. I know that for the virtually alcoholic and out of condition 45 year old Corso to find himself with this perfect girl needed some emphasis, but it was overdone, I thought.


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Re: TCD Question #20 ~ Irene Adler

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sun Aug 24, 2008 10:35 am

Okay, I was hoping youse guys had it all figured out! :lol: I was confused by who she was as well, fallen angel, the devil, none of the above? She was there to "protect" Corso, from? The author did belabor her physical description which I thought was supposed to tell us something important but I wasn't sure what that was. suec, thanks for the synopsis on Irene from the SH story. I can see the connection of using the character as someone who would be worthy and equal, if you will, to Corso but I felt there was a bigger reason for the name I was missing.
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Re: TCD Question #20 ~ Irene Adler

Unread postby Parlez » Sun Aug 24, 2008 10:52 am

Good one, Endora! I hadn't considered that the description of The Girl was just bad writing on the author's part! Now I will chalk up P-R's description of her to his own personal preferences...green eyes, oh-so young, and tan.

For the rest, in the book she comes on the scene along with the Nine Doors. I got the impression she was there to protect Corso and usher him along the path he was destined to take once he got involved with the book. Maybe even before, who knows? But whether she was sent from above to intercede, knowing that Corso would find the appeal of the devil too magnetic to resist on his own, or whether she was the devil herself is hard to say. I lean toward the former view because I think maybe that's the way it goes - the battle for souls is essentially a battle between the angels. The individual soul in question gets very short shrift. So it can be hard for the human in question to figure out what's going on and who's pulling the strings, as it were.

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Re: TCD Question #20 ~ Irene Adler

Unread postby Endora » Sun Aug 24, 2008 11:41 am

I think I'd be on the side of the latter. Parlez. Or, perhapsthe whole Nine Doors book thing was a red herring. Everyone was determined that the woodcuts and the text used in the proscribed way was the key to making the devil show up. Look at the terrible state of Borja at the end, and the destruction he caused to both books and people in his quest for the maagic formula. How ironic that all that time the devil (the girl) had actually been there...no magic, no chants, nothing! And instead of the red fire belching demon, to be found in the form of a beautiful girl!

Parlez, however what you say above about the battle for souls would nicely mirror the Napoleon/ Wellington/Waterloo imagery that is used throughout, and make the use of that image more purposeful.

The choice of name? I would tend to say that she is aware that Corso values his own cleverness highly, and knows many of his intertextual findings are muddying the waters. So her choice of someone who was as clever as another detective, maybe cleverer, was a sort of warning, but an intertextual reference he didn't pick up on.
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Re: TCD Question #20 ~ Irene Adler

Unread postby Parlez » Sun Aug 24, 2008 12:05 pm

Endora wrote:I think I'd be on the side of the latter. Parlez. Or, perhapsthe whole Nine Doors book thing was a red herring. Everyone was determined that the woodcuts and the text used in the proscribed way was the key to making the devil show up. Look at the terrible state of Borja at the end, and the destruction he caused to both books and people in his quest for the maagic formula. How ironic that all that time the devil (the girl) had actually been there...no magic, no chants, nothing! And instead of the red fire belching demon, to be found in the form of a beautiful girl!

Aye, you could be right, Endora, about the girl being the devil. There's plenty of evidence to suggest she was. As such, she would've known about the forgeries and that summoning the devil via the engravings, etc., wouldn't work. Hence, the whole Nine Doors pursuit was a wild goose chase all around. To what point and purpose I wonder? Just an entertaining distraction for her until Corso was 'ready' to be claimed as her own? Hmmm....

I recall the battlefield conversation she and Corso had, wherein she admitted to having been present as a warrior in some ancient, archetypal, Biblical arena. On which side is a question she doesn't quite answer to my satisfaction. The fallen angel (devil) is cunning, but so is its opposite. They are both skilled fighters, struggling mightily for power. You could say they are both expert at playing the soul-capture game.
Last edited by Parlez on Sun Aug 24, 2008 12:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: TCD Question #20 ~ Irene Adler

Unread postby Anna » Sun Aug 24, 2008 12:14 pm

Parlez wrote:
Endora wrote:I think I'd be on the side of the latter. Parlez. Or, perhapsthe whole Nine Doors book thing was a red herring. Everyone was determined that the woodcuts and the text used in the proscribed way was the key to making the devil show up. Look at the terrible state of Borja at the end, and the destruction he caused to both books and people in his quest for the maagic formula. How ironic that all that time the devil (the girl) had actually been there...no magic, no chants, nothing! And instead of the red fire belching demon, to be found in the form of a beautiful girl!

Aye, you could be right, Endora, about the girl being the devil. There's plenty of evidence to suggest she was. As such, she would've known about the forgeries and that summoning the devil via the engravings, etc., wouldn't work. Hence, the whole Nine Doors pursuit was a wild goose chase all around. To what point and purpose I wonder? Just an entertaining distraction for her until Corso was 'ready' to be claimed as her own? Hmmm...


But in the film she's the devil, isn't she? The film is much more Faustian and therefor I like Dean better (and because the actor who plays him is quite handsome).
*plans to rewatch the film this week*
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Re: TCD Question #20 ~ Irene Adler

Unread postby Parlez » Sun Aug 24, 2008 12:22 pm

Anna wrote:
Parlez wrote:
Endora wrote:I think I'd be on the side of the latter. Parlez. Or, perhapsthe whole Nine Doors book thing was a red herring. Everyone was determined that the woodcuts and the text used in the proscribed way was the key to making the devil show up. Look at the terrible state of Borja at the end, and the destruction he caused to both books and people in his quest for the maagic formula. How ironic that all that time the devil (the girl) had actually been there...no magic, no chants, nothing! And instead of the red fire belching demon, to be found in the form of a beautiful girl!

Aye, you could be right, Endora, about the girl being the devil. There's plenty of evidence to suggest she was. As such, she would've known about the forgeries and that summoning the devil via the engravings, etc., wouldn't work. Hence, the whole Nine Doors pursuit was a wild goose chase all around. To what point and purpose I wonder? Just an entertaining distraction for her until Corso was 'ready' to be claimed as her own? Hmmm...


But in the film she's the devil, isn't she? The film is much more Faustian and therefor I like Dean better (and because the actor who plays him is quite handsome).
*plans to rewatch the film this week*

Yes, I think Polanski makes it clear(er) that she's the devil (or one of his minions) in the film. He's much less subtle about it, IMO, which, IMO, makes the film less interesting compared to the book.
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Re: TCD Question #20 ~ Irene Adler

Unread postby Anna » Sun Aug 24, 2008 2:11 pm

Parlez wrote:Yes, I think Polanski makes it clear(er) that she's the devil (or one of his minions) in the film. He's much less subtle about it, IMO, which, IMO, makes the film less interesting compared to the book.


Well, there we disagree then. I didn't like the book at all. Too many literary references, too many semi-intellectual ideas that lead nowhere, too much of a constructed plot. It's not exactly, like the 19th century feuilleton, classical literature nor is it intended to be more than a 'divertissement', a light story to amuse and entertain.
The film, however, still has me thinking and wanting to have a look at it again from a different viewpoint. Polanski ignores Perez Reverte's intention and attempts to take it to (a) deeper level(s). He may not have been entirely successful doing so but to me the film is far more entertaining. I was glad when I reached the last page of the book and I'll never read The Club Dumas again.
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