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Old 09-16-2007, 01:32 AM
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Discworld: When did the Bursar go crazy?

I was discussing this with a friend of mine the other day, and neither of us could remember when the Bursar went off his rocker.

Now, I know in some of the really early books the Bursar acted just like the other wizards. At least to me he didn't stand out as being a few bats short of a belfry. You really couldn't tell much difference between the Bursar, the Chair of Indefinable Studies, the Dean, etc.

However, at some point things went downhill for the poor fella. I am in the middle of Hogfather, and I know the poor fella has been completely daft for some time.

I have a half-recollection of it being something Ridcully did, some traumatic event that sent the Bursar over the edge, but for the life of me I can't put my fingure on it.

Help!





And as an added bonus, a good PTerry quote about education: "Education is like contracting a venerial disease: it disqualifies you from a lot of jobs, and it gives you a strong urge to pass it on to others."
Old 09-16-2007, 01:46 AM
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I don't know if there was a defining moment that pushed him over the edge. l think I've read all the books, but can't be certain.

I can say, however, that Ridcully was entirely responsible for it. The Bursar's a quiet, studious little man, and Ridcully...is not. Just by being himself, Ridcully took the Bursar's nerves, twisted them into models reminiscent of Escher, used them to strike a gong until it was concave, and set them on fire like a man who'll be warm the rest of his life. The Bursar eventually retreated into his own mind where he could ignore Ridcully in peace.
Old 09-16-2007, 10:24 AM
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A perhaps moderately accurate, more lengthy treatise on the history of the Bursar at UU may be found here: http://wiki.lspace.org/wiki/Bursar
Quote:
The Bursar's original personality could be considered quiet and reserved, and he became the UU Bursar because no other wizard was so happy as he could be when working with numbers. However, Mustrum Ridcully's promotion to Archancellor led to the Bursar's current insanity, as Ridcully's personality wore away at his own, and he had eventually reached his current level of (in)sanity. The Bursar's idea of excitement was originally a soft-boiled egg, and Ridcully's presence made him highly strung and nervous. Nowadays there are many kinds of "health restrictions" for him, like only using a wooden spoon at meals, and not eating anything sugary.
Old 09-16-2007, 11:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qadgop the Mercotan
A perhaps moderately accurate, more lengthy treatise on the history of the Bursar at UU may be found here: http://wiki.lspace.org/wiki/Bursar
What that does not answer is which book the transition actually took place. I have read every book in the last few months and I cannot recall it. One book he was fairly normal (for a wizard that enjoys bookkeeping) and then he was popping dried Frog pills like candy.

I know he became bursar after the events of "Sourcery". He took over the post and shortly after Ridcully became Archchancellor and began shooting his crossbow into the wall of the Bursar's office. This is a large part of what drove him crazy.

Jim
Old 09-16-2007, 11:51 AM
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It occurs gradually, over the period of several books. I think it was the time the Bursar opened Ridcully's office door, only to be nearly impaled by the crossbow bolt Ridcully was firing at the target he had hung on the inside of the door that finally tipped the Bursar into full-blown psychosis.
Old 09-16-2007, 12:07 PM
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I was personally under the impression that it was the Luggage charging through the University that provided the last straw, though Ridcully certainly provided the main impetus and prevented any hope of the Bursar coming back to his senses.
Old 09-16-2007, 01:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Carrot
I was personally under the impression that it was the Luggage charging through the University that provided the last straw, though Ridcully certainly provided the main impetus and prevented any hope of the Bursar coming back to his senses.
Ah, this is the scene I was half remembering! Which book was that? Sourcery? I read through the wizard's series a bit too close together to tell them apart.

Last edited by Captain_C; 09-16-2007 at 01:02 PM.
Old 09-16-2007, 01:20 PM
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If I recall correctly, Ridcully first shows up in Moving Pictures, at the beginning of which the Bursar is still relatively sane. By the next book, Reaper Man, I think he was already pretty far over the edge. The frog pills don't pop up for at least a few more books and I think by The Truth he's still insane, but hallucinating that he's sane, so is at least functional in society. He still thinks he can fly, though.
Old 09-17-2007, 12:48 PM
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I've just had a quick canter through the relevant volumes, and I think the turning point comes in Lords and Ladies. The Bursar starts that as coherent, though clearly being worn down by Ridcully, and already taking the occasional dried frog pill to calm his nerves.

When the wizards are invited to Magrat and Verence's wedding, Ridcully suggests a holiday in the country may do the Bursar good. Which it might have done, if Ridcully hadn't gone too.

Poor chap was never the same again.
Old 09-17-2007, 01:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WotNot
I've just had a quick canter through the relevant volumes, and I think the turning point comes in Lords and Ladies. The Bursar starts that as coherent, though clearly being worn down by Ridcully, and already taking the occasional dried frog pill to calm his nerves.

When the wizards are invited to Magrat and Verence's wedding, Ridcully suggests a holiday in the country may do the Bursar good. Which it might have done, if Ridcully hadn't gone too.

Poor chap was never the same again.
That sounds right to me. I think that is where he when from wound too tightly to unwound mentally. Good find.
Old 09-17-2007, 03:41 PM
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I agree with WotNot; he went over the edge in Lords and Ladies.

Last edited by kelly5078; 09-17-2007 at 03:42 PM.
Old 09-19-2007, 02:23 AM
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Ah, I haven't read that one yet. Check and Mate dopers.
Old 09-19-2007, 02:25 AM
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There was another Bursar early in the series. I remember it saying that he was an ordinary person, not a wizard, and shouldn't have had to be subjected to what he had seen in the last few hours. Cannot remember which book, though. Any other Pratchett addicts who can help out?
Old 09-19-2007, 02:39 AM
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The first Bursar we see iirc, is Dr. Spelter. He is, however, killed by the Sourcerer in Sourcery. The current Bursar, Dr Dinwiddie takes over in Faust Eric, and is reasonably sane and normal until Lords and Ladies where by the start of The Entertainment, the Bursar has gone completely and utterly, well, Bursar.
Old 09-19-2007, 04:00 AM
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Can I ask a short follow up question?

For those of you over near England, is Bursar a common position? I knew it was a university title of some sort, but I had to look it up the first time I encountered the Bursar to figure out exactly what it was he did (theoretically anyway. Not like the wizards actually work, that's what students are for)
Old 09-19-2007, 04:12 AM
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You think the students work? Ha!

Seriously, to answer your question, "bursar" is an old university position, and is generally the academic/official in charge of the finances. We had a bursar at my undergrad university (actually we had one for each college), but then our mathematics tripos also had a Senior Wrangler, a Wrangler and an annual Wooden Spoon too. I'm not sure if the position still exists in the more modern universities however.
Old 09-21-2007, 08:14 PM
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Apart from that how did the Librarian become a Mo............. er a Primate sort of chap in a non religous sense?
Old 09-21-2007, 08:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lust4Life
Apart from that how did the Librarian become a Mo............. er a Primate sort of chap in a non religous sense?
IRC: Well that was so long ago that no one remembers when it was and only Rincewind knows his name.
Old 09-21-2007, 09:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lust4Life
Apart from that how did the Librarian become a Mo............. er a Primate sort of chap in a non religous sense?
It was in the second book, actually.

SPOILER:

The Book that contained the first 8 original spells that the Creator used to create the Disc passes through the University like a knife through hot butter. In passing its magic transforms a lot of things. Including the Librarian.
Old 09-21-2007, 09:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by What Exit?
IRC: Well that was so long ago that no one remembers when it was and only Rincewind knows his name.
It's Horace Worblehat.
Old 09-21-2007, 10:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Qadgop the Mercotan
It's Horace Worblehat.
So, does that mean you're Rincewind?

I am in the middle of Making Money, I started it this morning.
Old 09-21-2007, 10:33 PM
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From Nanny Ogg's Cookbook, p. 88, "Dried Frog Pills":

Quote:
According to the Bursar of Unseen University: "Spoon! Give it to Royster! I do not take you up, sir, indeed I don't, for there's a thumb under the girdle or my name's not Trucklebed! I'll have two slices, if I may!" Extrapolating from this, the Archchancellor of Unseen University, Dr Mustrum Ridcully, tells us: "It was clear to me shortly after I joined the University as Archchancellor that the Bursar was mad as a goose, and none of my efforts to jolly him out of it (by means of practical jokes and so on) seemed to work. Then young Ponder Stibbons, our wizard who is very much up on modern thinkin', came across some old research that suggested that the skin of some types of frog caused hallucinations, and he reasoned that, if it was possible to isolate the active ingredient and adjust it a little, it might be possible to cause the Bursar to hallucinate that he was completely sane. A commendable leap of imagination, that man. It seems to work, and provided he remembers the pills, our dear Bursar certainly passes for sane by the standards of universities."
Old 09-21-2007, 10:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrainGlutton
From Nanny Ogg's Cookbook, p. 88, "Dried Frog Pills":
While the location in your link isn't necessarily the last place I'd expect to find Nanny Ogg, it does seem to be inconsistent with your quote...
Old 09-22-2007, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by jayjay
While the location in your link isn't necessarily the last place I'd expect to find Nanny Ogg, it does seem to be inconsistent with your quote...
Tsk.
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