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From: m.driussi@genie.geis.com
Subject: (urth) yellow robes
Date: Wed, 25 Mar 98 22:18:00 GMT

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

Reply:  Item #1901496 from URTH@LISTS.BEST.COM@INET03#



The alcalde of Saltus also "wore his yellow gown of office and his
gold chain" (II, ch. 4).

The Old Autarch wears the yellow robe and (in contrast to gold chain)
an iron phallus necklace (containing, as it turns out, the autarchial
alzabo extract [which =is= said to be more powerful, I believe, than
the Vodalarii version] and a skull smashing knife).

Master Gurloes gives Severian a memorable lecture about poisonous
aphrodesiacs and an iron phallus (II, ch. 7).

Re: yellow and color symbolism:

"According to Beaumont, colour has a very special significance in
Chinese symbolism, for it is emblematic of rank and authority;
yellow, for instance, because of its association with the sun, is
considered the sacred privilege of the royal family [contrast with
the European sense of purple's royalty] . . . Interesting evidence of
the ominous and tragic character of orange . . . is forthcoming in
the following passage taken from Heinrich Zimmer, the orientalist:
`After the Future Buddha had severed his hair and exchanged his royal
garments for the orange-yellow robe of the ascetic beggar (those
outside the pale of human society voluntarily adopt the orange-yellow
garment that was originally the covering of condemned criminals being
led to the place of execution'" (entry on "Colour," A DICTIONARY OF
SYMBOLS, J.E. Cirlot).

Re: the memory thing being how Thecla is captured within Severian.  I
personally think this is the earlier level ("explanation" or
"excuse") of perception--since in reading through the book the first
time we know that Sev has this memory but we don't know he has the
Claw (much later we will find out he doesn't even =need= the Claw
itself, re: Triskele) nor what the Claw does or can do.

The next level is that it is the Claw's doing--that it has resurrected
Thecla within Severian (or "bound her spirit to his body in the same
way that a spirit is normally bound to its body").  And as I've
intimated, the level beyond that brings us back to the beginning but
with a difference (so our motion is a spiral rather than a circle):
the Claw's powers come from Severian himself.

But yeah, we've got Father, Sun, and Holy Ghost walking around in one
body, with a chorus of badly xeroxed autarchs going all the way back
to Ymar the Just-A-Smudge.


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

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