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From: "oreb" <oreb@apexmail.com>
Subject: (urth) scrap
Date: Sat, 1 May 1999 14:57:49 

<perches on a dark rafter, lurking in the e-shadows, cocking his head to
listen to the susurration of the discourse below.>

<spies a nice juicy rat in the corner, and mutters a muffled "Bird hungry.">

<suffers an agonizing moment of internal debate, the swoops down after it
with a SQUAWK, allowing a yellowed scrap of parchment to fall from his beak.
the scrap wafts back and forth in the e-space breeze, eventually settling on
the table in front of your group.>


LM: The Book of the New Sun, maybe especially The Citadel of the Autarch,
deals with the nature of death and the afterlife, the role of human beings
in the scope of the cosmos, all sorts of grand issues.  Are the basic
insights Severian eventually achieves essentially those you personally

GW: They're very close indeed, which is why the Citadel is my favorite of
the four books.  I tried to prepare the reader for some of these insights by
earlier placing Severian within that immense backdrop of war.  Severian is a
soldier; and like any soldier in any war, he sees parts of the battlefield
he's involved in as vitally important, essential, whereas he's really just a
very small part of a very large picture.  Having established Severian's
relationship to the larger picture, in the latter part of the book I wanted
to say, "Look, this is just a small, backwater planet - one of many
planets - and this isn't a particularly interesting or pivotal period in its
history.  The solar system to which this planet belongs is part of a galaxy
similar to quite a number of other spiral galaxies.  And all this exists in
a universe that is just one in a series of recurring universes.  What any
individual human being sees, no matter how broad the vista, is just a tiny
corner of what is happening in creation."

There's a scene in C.S. Lewis' Great Divorce that made a lasting impression
on me.  The book is about a one-day bus excursion for people who are in Hell
who want to visit Heaven to see what's there.  Toward the end, everyone is
saying, "Wow, everything here is so beautiful, look at these gorgeous trees
and waterfalls and animals!  But where is the infernal city that we just
left?"  At this point the angel who's leading them around says, "It's right
there in that crack between those two rocks - *that's* the city you've come
out of."  At the end of The Citadel, I wanted my readers to experience a
similar shock of recognition at their own insignificance.

LW: The outlook expressed at the conclusion seems fundamentally religious in

GW: I don't scoff at religion the way many people do when they look at
anything that has to do with speculations about things we can't touch.  I'm
a practicing Catholic, although I don't think that designation would give
people much of an idea about what my beliefs are.  People tend to have a
very limited, sterotyped view of what it means to be a Catholic, images
taken from movies or anti-Catholic pamphlets, but there's much more to it
than that.  I know perfectly well, for example, that priests can't walk on
water, that they are merely human beings who are trying, often
unsuccessfully, to live out a very difficult ideal.  But I certainly don't
dismiss religious or other forms of mystical speculation out of hand.  I
read it and try to make my own judgements about it.  And in The Book of the
New Sun, I tried to work out some of the implications of my own beliefs.

excerpt from an interview of Gene Wolfe by Larry McCafferty in "Across the
Wounded Galaxies", (c) 1990 by the Board of Trustees of the University of
Illinois.  University of Illinois Press.


<a satisfied bird exclaims "Rat good!", then wings his way back up to the
rafters to resume lurking>

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

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