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From: adam louis stephanides <astephan@students.uiuc.edu>
Subject: (urth) Wolfe's politics; BOOK and URTH
Date: Thu, 18 Jun 1998 15:40:31 

> From: Dan Parmenter <dan@lec.com>
> Subject: Wolfe's politics
> It's hard for me to imagine Wolfe as entirely "anti-PC"; after all, I
> think that 5HC is essentially a critique of colonialism.

Wolfe attacking PC doesn't surprise me at all, given his frequent populist
and anti-academic remarks.

(Which rouse a certain irritation in me, I confess.  Despite
his sneers at academic critics, it's Wolfe, even more than James Joyce who
coined the phrase, who requires "an ideal reader suffering from an ideal
insomnia," as this list demonstrates.)

> From: CRCulver@aol.com
> Subject: Re: (urth) New Sun miscellany
> [Me]: 
> <5) My final question is one that probably only Wolfe can answer, though
> the answer may be in some interview.  We know that _Urth of the New Sun_
> was not part of Wolfe's original intention, but was written as a
> compromise with his editor.  And _Urth_ makes explicit a number of matters
> highly relevant to BotNS, but which are much more obscure there, and would
> often probably have gone unsuspected without _Urth_.  My question is
> twofold: In doing the final revisions of BotNS, did Wolfe have the
> eventual existence of _Urth_ in mind?  In other words, would these matters
> that are made explicit in _Urth_ have been equally explicit in BotNS, had
> Wolfe gained his first preference and not written _Urth_? 

Okay, this one I should have known.  In CoD p. 417 (the same passage which
told me Wolfe had not originally planned to write _Urth_), Wolfe describes
his compromise with David Hartwell as follows: "David would publish _The
Citadel of the Autarch_ *exactly as I had written it*, provided that I
would write another book in which Severian recounted his trip to the
universe next door." [emphasis added]  In other words, Wolfe's own plan
had been to publish the four volumes of BotNS, as we have them, and
nothing else (setting aside BotLS, BotSS, and the various Urth-related
short stories).

What this means is that either such major plot elements as Severian's
"trial" being no trial, his predecessor's trial being a put-up job, and
Severian himself being the Conciliator were not part of Wolfe's original
scheme, or he intended them to remain entirely unguessed-at.  As someone
who would like to believe that the mysteries of Wolfe's fiction must
eventually yield to careful reading, I find this a dispiriting reflection.

> [Me]: And to what
> extent can we assume that Wolfe's vision of the New Sun universe is the
> same in _Urth_ as it was in BotNS?>
> [Christopher R. Culver]:
> It is certain there are some things in the BotNS that would make no sense and
> have no observable purpose if Wolfe didn't already have some elements of UotNS
> planned. The first thing that springs to mind is the winged Tzadkiel in the
> Autarch's book.
To be sure, Wolfe must have had much of what is in _Urth_ plotted out as
background when he wrote BotNS (this doesn't mean, as I say above, that he
intended to let us in on it).  But can we assume that he didn't change his
mind about any of it between completing BotNS and writing _Urth_?


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

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