All-Fiction Issue: Eleven Stories
Fogarty, Robert S., The Antioch Review
Last summer we published a dozen stories in our all-fiction issue, and when the time came to wrap up this edition I discovered that we had selected eleven. Now the number twelve lends itself to considerable speculation about historic usage, symbolic meanings, and contemporary variations on its application, but the number eleven seemed, at first, elusive.
I knew of the triple witching hour of 11/11/11 to commemorate the end of the First World War with a moment of silence at the Cenotaph in London and elsewhere; the tradition of teas and cakes at eleven (called elevenses); that cricket, soccer, and rugby (like our football) had eleven players to a side; and that there was a variant of solitaire called "elevens." Bartlett's Quotations was of little help about eleven, with only a single citation alluding to a line by a seventeenth-century poet (not Shakespeare) who wrote in the play Women's Wit, "Possession is eleven points in the law." Why not ten or twelve? Eleven, of course, is just ten plus one, and I should have let it go at that until my venerable Webster's New International Dictionary of the English Language (Second Edition) informed me that there was something in astronomy called "the eleventh-year cycle" that had to do with sunspots (solar cyclones) that erupt periodically. …