There was an interesting thread recently on alt.fan.rawilson suggesting that Timothy Leary's escape from prison may have inspired Sigismundo's escape from the Bastille (in The Widow's Son, one of the best novels). The general feeling from the RAW experts seems to be that Wilson must have had Leary in his thoughts.
One additional point: I haven't posted many uncovered RAW articles lately, but plan to resume doing so soon.
I would of thought he was reminded of Jean Henri Latude?
Siggy keeps repeating to himself, "Nobody had ever escaped from the Bastille." RAW had to have consulted the article from the famous 11th ed of Encyc. Britannica, which, IIRC, mentioned Latude and his 1756 break. Maybe to say "Only Latude had been known to escape the Bastille..." takes some of the drama out? Or it's plausible that, media being what it was, if there were escapes the knowledge would be kept underground. Certainly the gendarmes wd rather the populace believe the place inescapable, so Siggy cd believe non one had made it out.
Anyone who wants to compare and contrast Leary and Siggy: see chapter 11 in Part Two, "The Tower," in The Widow's Son, and Leary's tale from Flashbacks, chapter 34, "Twenty Four Steps To Freedom." Moonless nights in the fall, using yoga practice to overcome fear and muscle exhaustion, escape from above, etc.
Either way or some combination maybe, here's a Latude book in French with pretty pictures.
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