FIND in
<--prev V25 next-->

From: Dan Rabin <danrabin@a.crl.com>
Subject: (urth) _Peace_ as history
Date: Tue, 13 Apr 1999 22:56:58 

A lot of the recent commentary here on _Peace_ has centered on Weer's life
story: was he a murderer, was he a sad man, what unfulfilled task leads to
the persistence of his ghost, and so on.  I myself get pleasure from the
way in which Weer is a witness to a remarkable slice of American history.
I'm an urban history buff, and the progress of Cassionville from small
midwestern town to the home of a big orange-drink plant has a lot of
resonance for me.  As do the connections with the aboriginal inhabitants,
both via the mythologized ladies-club version of the settlement of the
town, and via the skull in the cave.  As does the progression from the
railway and trolley journeys of Weer's childhood to the encroachment and
eventual dominance of cars.  Wolfe reminds us that all these enormous
changes happened within a single lifetime.

Weer is less vivid a character to me than Aunt Olivia, her suitors, the
librarian, and Louis and Sherry Gold.  His main function, perhaps, is to
*remember*.  He doesn't seem very remarkable, either as a child, or as Ron
Gold's officemate, or as a slick old company president.  Sometimes I think
that _Peace_ is *not his story, primarily*, that the great tale of Irish
and Dutch and other and later European invaders turfing out the Indians and
turning potatoes into orange drink is a bigger story than one man's life.

Or just maybe _Peace_ is a Book of Gold, brought forth by the fictionizer
Gene Wolfe to fill a need just as the forger Louis Gold rationalizes that
he does with his forgeries.  Perhaps his claim that the Venus de Milo is a
forgery is a shock-tactic to get us to question the role of authentic
provenance in evaluating art.  Does it *matter* whether _Peace_ is a
reminiscence by a man, or a plausible fiction by a Weer-Wolfe?*

Which pondering leads me to inquire whether other contributors here have
noticed how often Wolfe embeds the fictional source of his writing in the
work itself?  From Severian to Latro to Eyebem to the protagonists of
"Feather Tigers" and of "Tracking Song" to Horn, I find it notable how
often Wolfe shows us the origin of the story we're reading.  He does this
so much that I read the first three volumes of _Long Sun_ thinking "Ah, a
refreshing change--third person omniscient!"  And then the entry for "Horn"
in the list of names at the beginning of _Exodus_, and later, Horn's own
entry as narrator, reminded me with whom I was dealing...

  -- Dan Rabin

*Readers may wish to decide for themselves whether _Peace_ more closely
fills the role of the _Necronomicon_ or _The Lusty Lawyer_.  Any avid
afficionados of alliteration and assonance out there?

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

<--prev V25 next-->