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From: Dan Rabin <danrabin@a.crl.com>
Subject: (urth) Keep the mailing list focused on Gene Wolfe
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 1997 15:44:12 

[Posted from URTH, a mailing list about Gene Wolfe's New Sun and other works]

I for one would prefer that the Urth mailing list remain focused on Gene
Wolfe's work.  That's what I subscribe for.

Since I'm an infrequent contributor, perhaps I should back up my vote with
a proposal for a new Wolfe-centered discussion topic:  Wolfe's craft in the

We are greatly struck by the quality of Wolfe's ideas and by the way he
uses them to great effect.  What about the small-scale details of *how* he
tells his stories?  I have in mind, for example, two occasions in _The Book
of the New Sun_ on which Severian ends a situation with decisive violence.

First, in _Torturer_ at the end of Ch. 14 `Terminus Est', Severian's
crushing of the nerve in the peltast's neck is preceded by the reflective
commentary `The peltast was relaxed, so there was no great difficulty.'
The presence of the word `relaxed' contributes to the calming effect.

Second, in _Sword_, at the end of Ch. 26 `The Eyes of the World', we have a
reversal in the sequence of action and reflection.  This time the
occurrence of the violence in the paragraph `I struck then,' interrupts
Typhon's arrogant attempt to swear Severian to his service.  OK, so he
struck, but what happened?  The following paragraph, beginning `There is a
way of smashing the nose with the heel of one's hand...' forms a nice
little disquisition on how Severian killed Typhon, revealing that Severian
must have been carrying out the outlined reasoning during the preceding
dialog with Typhon without telling us.  KER-POW!, and then `Elementary,
Watson, I simply deduced that to kill a two-headed human you must exploit a
reflex that can only protect one head.'

Does anybody else have a favorite example of Wolfe's technique at the
sentence-and-paragraph level?

By the way, the flinch reflex seems to be a bit of a favorite with Wolfe.
Hammerstone uses it as an example explaining `standing orders'  to Silk on
p. 223 (hardcover) of _Lake of the Long Sun_ (near the beginning of Ch. 9
`In Dreams Like Death').

  -- Dan Rabin

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