Annotation - Chapter 14, Page 119

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  • (119:6) "the yellerboy stoan the Salt 4"

This is of course sulfur, which is not found in England; the nearest source for it would be southern Europe. EB

Sulfur was viewed as male (hence a yellow boy) in the alchemical system. RG

In RW, the rediscovery of sulfur is part of Goodparley's quest for forgotten knowledge. EB Back in the 20th century, however, Russell Hoban might also have had in mind the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I and II) between the US and the Soviet Union. SALT I lasted from November 1969 to May 1972, and led to the ABM treaty signed by President Nixon and General Secretary Brezhnev. SALT II negotiations began in November 1972; two years later, President Ford and Brezhnev agreed to the basic provisions of a new treaty, and SALT II was signed by President Carter and Brezhnev in 1979. Hoban began RW in March 1974 and finished it in November 1979. There was much talk of "Salt 2" in the air during those years; perhaps he thought that the SALT talks would continue—SALT III, SALT IV—but fail to prevent the Berstyn Fyr. The SALT II treaty was not ratified because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and in 1986 President Reagan said the US would make decisions about strategic weapons in light of the threat posed by Soviet forces rather than by the terms of the SALT treaty. It seems that all SALT IV means, in Riddley's time and ours, is sulfur. MWS