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From: "Kevin J. Maroney" <kmaroney@crossover.com>
Subject: Re: (urth)
Date: Fri, 16 Oct 1998 10:54:08 

At 08:47 AM 10/16/98 -0400, Rostrum wrote:

"Memory" doesn't seem to me to be a theme, but a subject matter (just as,
say, time-travel is a subject matter). 

"All of life is a fragmentary memory, even as we are living it" would be a

Wolfe repeats *tropes* over and over--tricks with memory and memory
palaces, resureections and wars, killing one's friends (I often find myself
wondering who, exactly, Wolfe killed that he feels so guilty about
it--perhaps he's working through war guilt, or possibly he just finds it a
fascinating subject), stage-acting, and so forth. 

The equally brilliant John Crowley returns again and again to a few
well-defined themes--the past is fundamentally different from the present
and the present is constantly fundamentally changing into the future; the
entire world is a palace of memory. 

Wolfe is more varied. Yes, memory features prominently in _The Book of the
New Sun_ and the _Soldier_ novels (and in so many smaller works) but in
very different ways; I would say that its role in _The Book of the Long
Sun_ is, while certainly not absent, much less central and not in a
thematic continuum with either of those. 

More central to Wolfe's work is his ideal of heroism, which is a remarkable
mixture of self-determination and self-sacrifice. The degree to which his
characters are refined by suffering, but never lose sight of the fact that
their heroism is grounded in a need to protect their friends and their world.

(Of course, that doesn't fit Alden Weir at all, probably the least
admirable of Wolfe's protagonists. But even Weir has the self-determination
of a Wolfe hero.)


Kevin Maroney		kmaroney@crossover.com
Kitchen Staff Supervisor	New York Review of Science Fiction

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

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