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From: Michael Straight <straight@email.unc.edu>
Subject: Re: (urth) A Solar Labyrinth
Date: Tue, 7 Jul 1998 11:17:24 

On Mon, 6 Jul 1998, Jim Jordan wrote:

> 	Nutria here. My take on "A Solar Labyrinth" is, as you can guess, that it
> is about religion. Mark virtually makes the point for me. 
> 	A "smith" is a maker; He is God.
> 	Mazes precede human existence -- first sentence of the story. I suspect
> Wolfe might suggest that the Trinity Himself is the ur-labyrinth.


> 	The shadows cast by these objects - what they reveal as symbols - create
> the maze through which human beings are to travel: human biographies. The
> shadows are the ink of God.
> 	The Sun constantly changes the labyrinth: People have to be in touch with
> God in order to walk the maze and not get trapped. But they have to be
> constantly and fully in touch with God, and only one "child" has ever been.
> 	NOBODY makes it through the maze, except for one solitary child, Jesus.
> Sinful man tries, but fails. Only this Child can draw Arthur's sword from
> the stone.

[more comparisons snipped]

My problem with this analysis is that, if "A Solar Labyrinth" is an
attempt to capture something of the Christian life in a story, then I
don't think it's a very good story.  

Mazes are puzzles.  Something to be solved with the intellect.  The
Christian life is not something to be "solved."  It's not about the
intellect but about moral character and having the humility to accept
grace.  I think the equation of mazes with tricky stories fits much

I also don't think the most interesting part of your comparison, the
"solitary child," is supported by the text.  I don't have it in front of
me, but it seems to be twisting the sense to insist that the occasional
solitary child who sticks with the maze is meant to always be the same
child.  And does it say that the child actually solves the maze?  I got
the sense of several solitary children over time, each of whom experience
something, possibly sinister, possibly involving Mr. Smith and/or the
Minotaur, after everyone else has gone.

My main objection is one that I'm having trouble putting into words.  When
I read the comparison someone else made that mazes=stories and the solar
labyrinth=BotNS, I said to myself, "Ah!  How clever of Wolfe.  Reading his
stories *is* like navigating a maze, and few manage to find their way!"
But I don't get that sense from your interpretation.  I don't see what
clever or interesting thing the story has to say about the Christian life. 
And I usually like the religious elements in Wolfe's stories. 


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

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