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All of the titles of the tales in Dan Simmon's Hyperion make sense, except for one: in chapter 5 (page 246 of Mass Market Paperback), Sol Weintraub's story is titled "The River Lethe's Taste is Bitter."

I can surmise that

since the story is about Rachel aging backwards as a result of the Time Tombs, the bitterness is present. Still, most of Simmons' titles are either very literal or immediately metaphorical,

and the fact that this isn't entirely obvious is somewhat uncharacteristic.

So, I'm still not totally clear. Why is it entitled this?

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up vote 15 down vote accepted

The River Lethe refers to a river from Greek Mythology which ran through Hades. Anyone who drank from the waters of the river would lose their memories.

The River Lethe served as a barrier that the spirits of the dead had to pass on their way to their final rest, with the river erasing their memories so that they could let go of their past in preparation for the afterlife.

In Hyperion, the Weintraubs bitterness stems directly from Rachel's slow loss of memory, as her entire past was erased one day at a time. In particular, the death of Mrs. Weintraub was incredibly bitter for Sol, as each day he had to explain to his (now very young) daughter why she couldn't see her mother, as each day she would forget that her mother had died.

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