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From: adam louis stephanides <astephan@students.uiuc.edu>
Subject: (urth) Hierogrammates; Chesterton
Date: Tue, 4 Aug 1998 20:59:32 

In THE SILENCE OF THE LANGFORD, Dave Langford discusses British critic
Nick Lowe's (presumably not the rock musician) observation that some
science fiction novels circumvent tiresome questions of plausibility by
incorporating the plot itself as a character in the book, with a name such
as the Force or Hari Seldon's Plan.  Langford gives an illustration from
the Hyperion books, which makes clear he is talking about characters whose
function, and motivation, is to force the other characters to do what the
author wants them to do.  I don't want to believe that Wolfe is guilty of
this in URTH, but I haven't seen any better explanation for the
Hierogrammates' activities.  (And if my dissatisfaction with this makes me
a Vulcan, then so be it.)

On a completely different topic, I know that Wolfe admires Chesterton, but
Chesterton has never seemed "Wolfeian" to me, to employ a Borgesian
temporal inversion.  But in THE COLLECTED WORKS OF G. K. CHESTERTON vol.
14, which contains hundreds of pages of unpublished short stories,
novelettes, and fragments, there is a short story, "Child Street," which
did strike me as very Wolfeian. It's an excellent story, and worth seeking
out in a library or through interlibrary loan.  (The samw volume contains
another excellent unpublished short story, "Le Jongleur de Dieu," which is
not particularly Wolfeian, but is strikingly un-Chestertonian.)

This will be my last post for a while, as I am moving and losing my email

Au revoir,


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

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