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From: adam louis stephanides <astephan@students.uiuc.edu>
Subject: (urth) Book and Urth
Date: Sat, 20 Jun 1998 13:52:32 

On Fri, 19 Jun 1998 I wrote:

> Spectacled Bear wrote:
> > You took the words right out of my mouth! It seems to me that any
> > puzzles in BotNS ought to have answers in BotNS, subject only to
> > modification by things we find out later in UotNS.
> OTOH, _Urth_ is evidence of Wolfe's intentions in writing BotNS, just as
> interviews with Wolfe are (although neither of these sources are
> infallible).  So if we allow the interviews as evidence, as we usually do
> on this list, we should allow _Urth_ as evidence also, even if we're only
> interested in BotNS.

I neglected to say that I basically do agree that the answers to
interpretative questions about a work of fiction should ideally be
deducible from that work itself. Thus I prefer evidence from the novels to
evidence from interviews, and in interpreting BotNS I would prefer
evidence from BotNS to evidence from _Urth_.
> This raises an interesting philosophical (and very Borgesian) question:
> can the meaning of BotNS by itself be different from the meaning of BotNS
> as part of the five-volume "Fictions of the New Sun" (Peter Wright's
> useful term, IIRC) including _Urth_?

I was thinking more about the relationship between BotNS and _Urth_, and
came to the conclusion that this problem is not as serious as it might be,
because BotNS and _Urth_ are basically complementary.  What I mean by this
is that, IMO, the essential "matter" of BotNS is Severian's personality,
as revealed both by the tale he tells and by the way he tells it; the
setting of Urth and Briah-Yesod, while of great interest, is essentially
background material.  Thus, while _Urth_ may contain information about the
New Sun cosmos which contradicts the best inferences we could have drawn
from BotNS, this doesn't change the basic meaning of BotNS.  Conversely,
_Urth_ is essentially about this cosmos, and doesn't tell us much that's
new about Severian's personality (which may be one reason why some people
find it a disappointment).


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

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