Cain’s Jawbone: Where He Who Drinks Is Deathless   6 comments

This is where I’m leaving the book for the moment; it’s hard with this sort of puzzle to ascertain if you’re sure you’ve made progress but — I feel like I’ve progressed to the point where I can explain the overall logic of the puzzle, even if I’m still very confused on the plot.

If this is where you’ve landed you should read my prior posts about the book first. And of course, this is about as extreme as spoilers can be. While I have to severely disappoint anyone who arrives typing “cain’s jawbone solution” into their favorite search engine, this does establish quite a bit of scaffolding; however, I still have to disclaim that some of this may still be wrong.

From AbeBooks.

The basic gameplay logic is to notice connections about a character that let you organize pages together. They might be personal tendencies to use particular items, or they might be relationships (especially to Henry the dog). As Peter observed with my last post, the narrator lights a “Nestor” (cigarette brand) on both pages 6 and 54, so we can assert (at least temporarily) that those two must be connected. The page 54 mention is explicit, the page 6 one is not:

…venerable whose winter Achilles thought to take from the lips of Cressida. Why not? I set fire to one end of him, gloatingly, and my nerves benefited.

On some pages, the author talks about their own name. I am still unclear if any of these overlap with first name-last name or if they are all different.

Page 15: Alexander, the only noteworthy Pope of my native land, was demonstrably affected. And my namesake wrote a letter, in which he said that Sarah’s left eye was injured, and there appeared a black spot on her breast.

Seems to indicating the author’s name is Pope, although it could be Clement repeated who is simply associating himself with Popes (see page 24).

Page 18: He would be, even to start with, for a course of soup, and then another of dishes, as my namesake said, and another of birds.

Based on the textual reference, seems to be Paul (of Paul’s letters in the Bible).

Page 24: I had always thought that to carry the name of fourteen popes and two anti-popes meant nothing to me either way.

I’ve gone through this one before, based on the pope count (and the fact the name occurs on another page) likely it is Clement.

Page 43: Alexander’s my name. They ca’d me Ecky when I was a boy.

Almost certainly a fake-out; the whole quote is from Robert Louis Stevenson. (It isn’t the only RLS quote, suggesting this particular narrator likes RLS and any other quotes are also from the same person.)

Page 58: Considering it was my name month, I wasn’t having too much luck. Henry, though a bit on the spectacular side—to fly the viscera of his third, of the old family lawyer, at his small flagstaff, a little argued the exhibitionist—was sane enough.

Is this person May?

Page 61: I had always been proud of my namesake, the Great Lexicographer, as we, not unnaturally, called him in the family. But I wondered if part of my life would not rather horribly reverse his. After all he had been born at Colney Hatch.

Based on the birthplace, this has to be John Walker, who wrote a Rhyming Dictionary. (The reverse also hints at the author dying at Colney Hatch?) Is the person just John, just Walker, or both?

Page 73: All the artist in me flared up. After all, my given name was world-famous as the inherited one of a bold, subtle and delightful painter. I was, perhaps, unreasonably proud of that ; took a sort of proprietary interest in “The Mumpers.” Why not? It would have been absurd to concern myself with Hamlet’s one, a thing of dreams only, or to have let my spirit flutter around Runymede.

Another name I’m unclear on; any guesses? This may require more connected context to make sense.

Page 85: I had, it occurred to me, been something of an automaton. But wasn’t I thrusting my head, when bent on such a business in this street, into the twin mouths of two lions, of Mycroft’s brother and of the pale but multitudinous Blake? Often as a schoolboy they had guyed my name to a whiskified objectionable one.

Includes a quote from Giffen’s Debt which suggests the name Giffen.

Page 91: In my youth I had been worried that I bore the same name as Newbolt’s admiral and Shakespeare’s sergeant, and it had irked me when, in my student days, I had been known as the Smiler with the Knife.

I’ve been through this one; the current best guess is De’Ath as a surname.

Page 93: Naturally I looked up. And I tell you I found it awe-inspiring enough to actually see my own name through the window, printed there in great letters for the gaze of all and sundry. With a blush I concentrated again on Henry, and asked myself if his recent activities did or did not constitute the darbs.

I’m not sure what name this is; I would assume some church in the narrative is identifiable enough that it is also possible to identify stained-glass with a name.

The general logic thus seems to be to use these clues shown to establish exactly who the narrators are, connect pages in sets by personal tendencies (and possibly events, but the plot is too confusing to make much headway), and once the pages are in the right sets, it likely will be much more plausible to sort things in order. There might be some finesses to make things easier, like each narrator appears in a “block”, but it’s not certain at this point. I’ve seen a few “murder wall” pictures that attempt to smooth everything out into one line but it really seems like the best bet is to sort by blocks, and not try to connecting everything chronological in one fell swoop.

I still feel satisfied I have some grasp of going on but … I’d still like to finish? I’m still going to keep thwacking at intervals, and if significant progress is made I’ll give an update. In the meantime I do have adventure games to keep writing about, including two (two!) games that were previously lost, one for home computers, one for mainframes.

Oh, and many thanks to everyone who contributed to the Google doc. It’s almost readable sometimes now!

Far, far from here the Adriatic breaks in a warm bay among the green Illyrian hills. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Read Mark Twain and inwardly digest. But I had to keep my wits about me. He pottered about with me and succeeded at last in making friends with Henry. Already he felt that I was leading him to the fountain Ponce de Leon sought, where he who drinks is deathless. And he was not so far wrong.

Does this suggest the killing of De’Ath?

Posted June 8, 2022 by Jason Dyer in Gamebook, Interactive Fiction, Poetry, Puzzles

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6 responses to “Cain’s Jawbone: Where He Who Drinks Is Deathless

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  1. “The Mumpers” is a painting by Augustus Edwin John, so it sounds like that narrator’s first (given) name is “John,” the last (inherited) name of the painter?

  2. page 15: the one who writes about sarah and john isn’t pope, is someone else, you can have some help in chamber’s book of days with this clue

  3. “Mycroft’s brother”: Sherlock Holmes. “Blake” is probably Sexton Blake, one of the numerous “pale imitations” of Holmes that appeared in pulp magazines of the era. “Whiskified objectionable”, combined with the reference to the main character in Giffen’s Debt being “always drunk”, might suggest the famously mustachioed Dr. Watson’s brother, who died of alcoholism, and whose watch Holmes examines in the novel “The Sign of Four”. (I added this to the Google Doc already.)

    Also, you’ve probably seen this, but a few days ago I posted a note on the doc that “Death closes all: but something ere the end/Some work of noble note, may yet be done…” is a quotation from Tennyson’s “Ulysses”

    Andrew McCarthy
  4. Considering the name for the month, there is anAugustus in the book too

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