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From: m.driussi@genie.geis.com
Subject: (urth) solar labyrinth
Date: Tue,  7 Jul 98 05:05:00 GMT

Well, when John Clute calls me to bat, I go.

However unready I might be.

My recollection about things being said (not by John Clute directly,
mind you) regarding "A Solar Labyrinth" (ASL) and the Urth Cycle . . .

ASL has been discussed before as a sort of touchstone. (For the
record, fwiw, I have never seen an interpretation like that of Robert

Greg Feeley mentioned ASL in his NYRSF (No. 31 and No. 32) piece.  The
point being that the creator is also the monster: that the roles of
Daedelus and Minotaur have been collapsed into one.  That mazes
figure strongly in TBOTNS: the retelling of Theseus; the Autarch's
mind described as a maze.  (Let alone the tunnels under the citadel;
the trail to Ultan; the sorcerer's maze; the labyrinth patterns on
the magic mirrors; the trail to the Last House; the matachin dance
itself; the maze of the ship Tzadkiel; etc.)

The last line of Feeley's essay: "Let his comment [Wolfe's
introduction notes on ASL in STOREYS FROM THE OLD HOTEL, which
everybody here has been quoting] stand as reminder of the
helpfulness and suspect motives of Wolfe's own commentaries, and
the story as a short, formal nudge: every maze holds a monster;
labyrinths serve the interests of their builder."

To which I would add my favorite Urth labyrinth tidbits: how the
Old Autarch has the aspect of a bull (or is that "bull-headed man"?)
in the corridors of time (and how this links to the calendar stories
"To the Dark Tower Came" and "At the Point of Capricorn"); how
Severian must kill him, even though it is by the Old Autarch's desire
and command, still he stands in the minotaur/naviscaput position; how
Father Inire, as Daedelus of Urth, has a fondness for children
(pre-pubescent girls) which makes him like Lewis Carroll on the nice
side and the maze maker/monster of ASL on the nasty side (this is
part of the common touchstone I remember people talking about).

For what it is worth, ASL probably forms a part of a cycle of stories
about the Urth Cycle which are not of the Urth Cycle.  We could add
"The Sailor Who Sailed After the Sun," cued by the title and certain
elements of the story.  There are others--Joan Gordon's book says that
"Four Wolves" (see note below) "may be about the writing of TBOTNS";
"The God and His Man" "might be an allegory of the Urth."

(Note: "Four Wolves" in "Amazing" [5/83] = short shorts: "At the
Volcano's Lip," "In the Mountains," "My Book," and "The River."  The
last of which can be found nowhere else, to the best of my

(Joan Gordon's book says that ASL is "a Borgesian maze.")

A very poor showing if I'm to say yea or nay to John Clute's snappy
note regarding ASL as being a metafiction of TBOTNS.  I mean, I say,
"Yea!" since it was a touchstone that was in use; I understood it
intuitively and agreed with it; but have a hard time defending it
beyond the vague way that I present above.


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

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