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From: "Alice Turner" <al@interport.net>
Subject: (urth) Silly Bus 4
Date: Mon, 27 Apr 1998 09:47:20 

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

Thinking about "In the Penal Colony" sent me back to my old Modern Library
"Selected Stories" yesterday, a fine project for a rainy Sunday, and now I'm
thinking that "The Great Wall of China" ought to be included in the syllabus
too; it is quite wonderful about time in a static civilization and seems to
me relevant not only to the Autarchy but to the Ascians. Here's just one
among many striking paragraphs:

"Just so, as hopelessly and as hopefully, do our people regard the Emperor.
they do not know what emperor is reigning, and there exist doubts regarding
even the name of the dynasty. In school a great deal is taught about the
dynasties with the dates of succession, but the universal uncertainty in
this matter is so great that even the best scholars are drawn into it.
Long-dead emperors are set on the throne in our villages, and one that only
lives in song recently had a proclamation of his read out by the priest
before the altar. Battles that are old history are new to us, and one's
neighbor rushes in with a jubilant face to tell the news. the wives of the
emperors, pampered and overweening, seduced from noble custom by wily
courtiers, swelling with ambition, vehement in their greed, uncontrollable
in their lust, practice their abominations ever anew. the more deeply they
are buried in time the more glaring are the colors in which their deeds are
painted, and with a loud cry of woe our village eventually hears how an
Empress drank her husband's blood in long draughts thousands of years ago."


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

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