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Galapagos Affair, cont’d

In response to:

Satan Comes to Eden from the March 15, 1984 issue

To the Editors:

I was puzzled by Vernon Young’s letter [NYR, March 15] concerning Luc Sante’s review of my book, The Galapagos Affair [NYR, February 2]. However, I will do my best to help.

In his letter Mr. Young tells of his long quest for an “item” that he has been “vainly trying to recover” and which, he suspects, has something to do with my study of the dotty collection of settlers who sought paradise on a Galapagos island half a century ago.

Mr. Young is correct “these two ‘histories’ are related” and the one that he has long sought is indeed Satan Came to Eden, although his reconstruction of its plot is even more outlandish than the original. But all will be revealed if Mr. Y buys, or borrows, a copy of my book. There he will discover the identity of the authoress of S.C.T.E. and find out exactly how her account of the bizarre events on Floreana differed from that of her appalling lover and those of the other settlers and visitors to the island. He will, for example, be able to compare her description of the death of the lover (who, she claimed, expired from a stroke and, in so doing, “opened his great blue eyes and stretched his arms” with a “glance that was joyously tranquil”) with that of another female inhabitant, turned authoress (who said that he died of poisoning and “cursed” the authoress of S.C.T.E. “with his dying breath”).

I hesitate to dispute with Mr. Young as to which version of the curious events on Floreana would be “better suited to cinematic adaptation.” However, in my opinion, both the scenario outlined by Mr. Y and that title would certainly qualify it as a bad B-movie.

John Treherne

Downing College

Cambridge, England

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