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From: "William H. Ansley" <wansley@warwick.net>
Subject: (urth) Who am I? (was: Hues, HORARS: II)
Date: Thu, 16 Jul 1998 00:16:43 

>Anyone up for making a list of Wolfe stories where the narrator is
>mistaken about his own identity?  Off the top of my head:
>"The Other Dead Man"
>"Checking Out"
>"The Changeling"
>"Tracking Song"
>Both Severian and Silk to some extent
>Maybe Weer in PEACE

I think you are going to have to change your specifications if you want to
include all the stories you mention. How about: a list of Wolfe stories
where the protagonist (who may also be the narrator) is mistaken or
confused about his identity (and where it may be impossible to tell from
the text unambiguously what the protagonist's true identity is) and where
identity can mean either personal identity or something more general such
as whether the protagonist is dead or alive, human or nonhuman.

Hey, isn't that all of them?!? 8->

In HORARS whether the protagonist is a HORAR or a human surgically
disguised as a HORAR is left at least slightly open.

In "The Other Dead Man" and "Checking Out" the protagonists know who they
are, they just don't know that they are dead.

In "The Changeling" it's hard to know who is mistaken about the narrator's

In "Tracking Song" as far as I can see, it is more a case of loss of
identity than being mistaken; Cutthroat is never quite sure who he is (and
neither are we).

I am assuming you are including "Forlesen" because either you think the
protagonist, Emanuel Forlesen, is dead and doesn't know it which is
certainly possible and even likely, but not, I think, certain or you think
he has been given a wholly false identity, which may be true but there is
little or no support for this in the text.

Latro, again, is a case of lack of (personal) identity due to lack of
memory. Severian and Silk know who they are but not what they are; at least
at first. I think that Alden Dennis Were is perhaps the least ambiguous of
all of Wolfe's "dead and doesn't know it" narrators, although this fact is
anything but obvious in PEACE.

You have left out the grand-daddy of all of Gene Wolfe identity confusion
pieces: _The Fifth Head of Cerberus_.

I also nominate:

"The Eyeflash Miracles"
"The Packerhaus Method"
_Free Live Free_
"Three Fingers"

And possibly:

"The Death of Dr. Island"
"Sightings at Twin Mounds"
"A Solar Labyrinth"
"In the House of Gingerbread"
"The Last Thrilling Wonder Story"

William Ansley

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

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