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From: Peter Stephenson <pws@ifh.de>
Subject: Re: (urth) BotNS Review
Date: Mon, 09 Mar 1998 10:13:32 +0100

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

CRCulver@aol.com wrote:
> I'm writing a review of the Book of the New Sun and Urth of the New Sun for
> Porchnus, the e-zine of the America Online Religion and Beliefs forum. The
> review will center on religious themes in the BotNS. I'd appreciate any and
> all suggestions from those of this list who are certainly more knowledgeable
> than I concerning Wolfe's writings.

There are some apparent references to Severian as Christ, which should
probably be seen in the context of references to Severian as lots of
other (in the broadest sense of the words) mythological heroes:  King
Arthur, Faust, Theseus, Romulus ...

I just spotted one possible one reading Shadow the other day: in the
chapter Terminus Est, Severian, having left the citadel, comes to a
bridge, where he is brought before the lochage (a word of classical
origin, according to the Lexicon) with the words `This is the man'.
This sounds like a reference to Christ before Pilate.  He doesn't get
asked `what is truth'.  He also describes himself in this sequence
from the guild's full title as a `seeker for truth and penitence',
which may be related.  The whole idea of Severian as both hero and
torturer has more vaguely religious overtones.

The part where he goes through Thrax holding the Claw aloft recalls `I
am the light of the world', but I may be thinking more of the Holman
Hunt painting than the biblical quotation.  Obviously, the Conciliator
has heavy Christ-like associations, which I can't really do justice to.

A clearer reference is the episode when he is taken by Typhon up Mt. Typhon
and shown things he shouldn't be able to see.  This must be a
reference to Christ in the wilderness being tempted by the Devil,
where he is shown all the countries in the world and offered them as a

I'm sure there must be other such.  I hope someone can wax lyrical on
the relationship of the Pancreator, the Increate, the Conciliator,
etc. etc., which I've never quite got straight.

Peter Stephenson <pws@ifh.de>       Tel: +39 50 844536
WWW:  http://www.ifh.de/~pws/
Gruppo Teorico, Dipartimento di Fisica
Piazza Torricelli 2, 56100 Pisa, Italy

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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