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I am very grateful to Associate Professor Stephen Kolsky for commenting on drafts of this essay, and for the comments of the examiners of the MA thesis on the intertextuality of the Commedia in Tarabotti's three cloistral works from which it is drawn.
The cloistral buildings appear to have been floored only once; the surviving tiles show considerable wear, in contrast to the church which has multiple periods of renovation.
Either from the outside--as baggage the cultural-safari aficionados lug around--or from the inside--in the form of the late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century "national specific" theory much bandied about by right-wing ideologues and refuted by Cartarescu himself in a 2005 article (8)--these exotic or cloistral imaginings close off communication and exchange once again.
Although many of the details were off by a mile, Wolfe got the musty, cloistral atmosphere eerily right: the tremulous Whisper Zone along Shawn's corridor and the code of secrecy practiced by the sect-like staff, the joyless digs of the editorial offices (which Wolfe compares to the faculty warren of a small agricultural college--I say it should have been preserved at the Smithsonian as the original temple of shabby chic), the grammatical fussiness and fact-checking queries that turned innocent galleys into "whichy thickets" the blinkered obliviousness to the social convulsions rocking the country.