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From: adam louis stephanides <astephan@students.uiuc.edu>
Subject: (urth) Re: Digest urth.v016.n002
Date: Sat, 11 Jul 1998 10:34:01 

What a daunting task, pitting my feeble knowledge of the New Sun cycle
against mantis's!  But I still think I'm correct on the regency issue.

On Thu, 9 Jul 1998 mantis wrote:

> Re: Valeria's Regency in the Valeria entry.  Do you consider it an error
> because technically she became regent the moment Severian left Urth?
> Rather than "during the decades of [Severian's] absence" (which sounds
> vague and gradual)?  Your question makes it seem more likely that you
> doubt Valeria was his regent while he was visiting Yesod.

Since I believe that Severian stopped being Autarch when he left Urth, I
don't think he had a regent, neither Valeria, Father Inire, or anyone

> I'm nearly positive that Severian uses the term "regent" or
> "Valeria's regency" somewhere in URTH.

Possibly, but scanning the pages following Severian's discovery of Valeria
on the Phoenix Throne, I didn't find any reference to Valeria being a
regent.  Nor is it likely that there would have been such references
before, since not Valeria but Father Inire was Severian's designated
successor (despite your cryptic comments in "Regency Plot Thickens").

Nor am I convinced by your ingenious analogies to show that Severian could
have still been Autarch even though he speaks (on board the ship) of his
Autarchy in the past tense.
> In the general case, again using the analogy of a king going by ship
> to the holy land:
> Passenger: "So you still claim to be king of England while you are on
> this ship out in the middle of the Mediterranean?"
> King: "I was king--now I'm on holiday, so I'm the grand poobah of
> partydom.  Good thing my regent is minding the kingdom while I'm away!"

I think the king, if he had not abdicated, would have said he was still
king.  If someone had asked Clinton, in China, "Are you the President of
the United States?" would he answer "I was" or "I am"?

> Or, to put it in a skiffy way: if John F. Kennedy gets into a time
> machine and travels to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, is
> he still "President" while he sits there eating his meal and watching
> the universe collapse in the Grand Gnab?  His nation is gone, his
> planet is gone, his solar system is gone.

This idea--that Severian is taking time-travel into account and being
pedantic--is one I hadn't thought of, but I'm inclined to reject it, for
three reasons.  First, when Gunnie asks Severian if he's aware of the
ship's time-travelling properties, Severian says "'Yes, I'm coming to
understand so.'" (ch.16, p. 116), with the implication (at least to my
ears) that this "understanding" is recent. But Severian first refers to
his Autarchy in the past on p. 20.  Was he aware of the time-travel
aspects then?  Second, does Severian know--can he know--that the
Commonwealth is in the ship's past, if in fact it is?  My impression is
that it goes both forward and backward relative to Briah's time.  Third,
and thisis vaguer than my other points, my feeling is that if Severian
were going to make this sort of pedantic distinction, he would say so:
something like "'I am the Autarch--or rather, I was, but in this time my
realm doesn't exist.'"

And as for the pharoah analogy you use later, Severian doesn't regard his
Autarchy, or former Autarchy, as "just another prop" to be let go of in
Yesod. On the contrary, his Autarchy is the reason he's facing
"trial," and he knows it.  And he's careful to make clear to Gunnie that
he "'was the legitimate head of the whole of'" Urth, despite the de facto
limits of his rule. (ch. 3, p. 20)

As for how to designate Valeria (and Father Inire): well, Father Inire has
obviously not eaten Severian's brains; and Severian never refers to him as
Autarch, so maybe there's a specific title we never hear of for those who
rule the Commonwealth without being full-fledged Autarchs.  OTOH, Severian
has no qualms in referring to Valeria as Autarch (ch. 42, p. 298; ch. 44,
p. 315), even though she hasn't received her predecessor's memories and
doesn't know the words. He knows more about the constitutional
arrangements of the Commonwealth than we ever will, so maybe we should
follow his example.


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

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