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From: Michael Straight <straight@email.unc.edu>
Subject: Re: (urth) Are TBOTNS and UOTNS Christian Texts?
Date: Thu, 29 Apr 1999 16:10:41 

On Thu, 29 Apr 1999, Alex David Groce wrote:

> 	Partial agreement on my part, but very partial if you mean what you
> seem to mean; sure, Wolfe is a modernist, and almost all of his major works
> are, to some extent, metafictional commentaries on the stories that shape
> fiction.  However, Wolfe's metafictions strongly imply that to a great extent
> our lives, in "reality," are shaped by stories--this is certainly his stance in
> his nonfiction.  So, to say that Wolfe is a modernist does not imply that
> reading metaphysical and religious implications into his works is off-base.
> After all, T. S. Eliot is rather THE modernist, but to suggest that because
> they are (A) reworkings of numerous themes from other sources and (B)
> commentaries on the art of poetry doesn't mean that THE WASTE LAND and FOUR
> QUARTETS have no religious or metaphysical implications. 
> 	I would argue that any commentary on the nature of "story" or "art" is,
> by necessity, a commentary on the nature of the real world as well.  Wolfe
> clearly worked hard to build a consistent and plausible world for Severian and
> his attendant texts to move in.  It's hardly futile to argue about the meanings
> or the science-fictional details of that well-built world.

If Wolfe were writing in the same way as Lewis, that is, in a future meant
to be a literal extension of ours, then it would make sense to ask, "If
Tzad is really an Angel of God, why doesn't he tell Severian about Jesus
and the True Catholic Faith?"

I'm arguing that that sort of question would be a category mistake.
Because Wolfe is not trying to imagine how the story of Christ and his
Church might extend into the future, rather he is telling a story that is
a sort of image or icon of the story of Christ.  The picture is not equal
to the thing it pictures.  That doesn't mean the religious or metaphysical
ideas pictured are not important, it just means that the pictures should
not be confused with the thing itself.


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

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