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From: "Alex David Groce" <adgroce@eos.ncsu.edu>
Subject: (urth) Various and sundry matters
Date: Tue, 13 Apr 1999 13:46:51 

Re:  Weer

	First, I'd like to welcome Ed van der Winden to the list.  You
definitely have some interesting insights into PEACE, although I think I'm
going to disagree with them somewhat.
	The name and new axe simply don't convince me of the repetition
theory--my model of PEACE is more purgatorial than infernal (your idea sounds a
little like Flann O'Brien's THE THIRD POLICEMAN, which I strongly recommend as
one of the best afterlife fantasies).  I still think the nailed down notes
indicate aspects of Weer's past he HAS come to terms with--the stories are all
left unfinished because (A) in our lives, stories don't have tidy endings, they
drift into each other and are left with open parenthesis as the various
characters unexpectedly die or move or grow uninterested and (B) the real
"completion" of Weer's stories is his letting go of them and moving on to
something else ("peace").  The strongest, for me anyway, indication that Weer
does (literally) "escape from his skull" is the scene of the Sidhe, which is
one of my favorite passages in Wolfe's writing.
	I think you're correct (as I've said before) in discounting the Wer as
mass-murderer theory, and since I'm convinced Weer does find "peace" I'm not as
inclined to search for a damning incident he's hidden.  His life as it is seems
plenty to keep him from immediately storming the gates of heaven, although I
think he is a decent man at heart.  However, I'm going to reread some and think
about the suggestion that he killed Smart.  Wolfe's "trying to remember who
killed who in that book" suggests there's more than one hidden crime in PEACE,
and the motive makes sense, and it would explain the weirdness of Weer's
comment that Smart is the central character.  The knife is possibly a red
herring on this, though--Wolfe's essay on PEACE in CASTLE OF DAYS suggests to
me that the knife is there as a link to Wolfe himself, which is a fairly common
trick of his.  I still think the best explanation for the "Smart as central
character" line is simply that PEACE is a book about how Weer's story is really
everyone else's story--and by implication that this is so for all of us.

Time loop:
	Nice idea.  The support is really tenuous, but that's not uncommon
here.  It extends the "Self-supporting Severian" to the extreme.  The
Baldanders analogy may be reversed though--Wolfe's always defended Severian as
not being a devilish figure--so perhaps instead of separating himself from the
Increate, Severian is a creation out of nothing (with a mother from within the
"time stream" or what you will) inserted by the Increate, either directly or
through Hierodules, etc.  

Sex in Wolfe:
	First, I want to defend Father Inire--I think he's clearly modeled on
Lewis Carroll, hence his association with little girls.  And if so, I'd say
that like Carroll, there's no evidence he ever did anything improper at all,
whatever possible sexual inclinations he might have had.
	In general, it seems to me that Wolfe's various uses of sexuality are
to (A) in the book of the New Sun indicate the culture and morality of
Severian's world and of Severian himself--and others, IE nasty old Baldanders
and (B) in general it doesn't seem that Wolfe's works are over-sexed.  Weer adn
Sherry Gold isn't exactly child-molestation, although it's possibly statutory
rape.  It's a powerful insight into Weer and Sherry.  Wolfe uses prostitues,
whorehouses, and various other themes no more than most other serious 20th
century authors seeking to portray human life in its complexity--in fact, one
nice thing about the BOTNS is that rather than the usual slightly titilating
and adolescent treatment of sex, it's an adult look at desire in it's
complexity.  Wolfe uses sexual themes for roughly the reasons Nabokov,
Faulkner, Kafka and Joyce.

A Side Note:
	I found a quotation from J. M. Barrie that would make a great epigraph
for the whole Island/Doctor/Death set of stories:

	"To be born is to be wrecked on an island."

	Barrie, of course, wrote "Peter Pan" which is (I'd say) a direct
influnce on the three major island stories, as well as THE major influence on
"The Changeling."  Not to mention "Mary Rose's" prominent place in Seven
American Nights.
"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." - John 8:32
Alex David Groce (adgroce@eos.ncsu.edu)
Senior (Computer Science/Multidisciplinary Studies in Technology & Fiction)
'98-99 NCSU AITP Student Chapter President
608 Charleston Road, Apt. 1E (919)-233-7366

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

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