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From: "Alice Turner" <akt@attglobal.net>
Subject: (urth) modernism
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 1999 10:23:06 

> From: "Daniel Fusch" <dfusch@hotmail.com>

> I think Wolfe's work is likely to last into the next century, although it
> unlikely that he will receive much in the way of critical attention for
> time to come. I think the work of writers like Walter A. Miller, Jr., Ray
> Bradbury, and Ursula K. LeGuin will also last into posterity, since they
> also authors who experiment with different forms of storytelling. These
> authors are also--incidentally--taught in today's college lit classes.

Bradbury and LeGuin will last as children's authors. Miller will last for
people interested in the history of SF (as Bradbury and LeGuin will too, of
course--the way Sheridan LeFanu has lasted).

> And I think it very likely that some of the science fiction "classics"
> last as "relics" of the past...at least for a little while. For example,
> Asimov's "Foundation" is probably here to stay, whether or not we agree
> its "literary merit" (if such a thing can be defined), since that work
> defined a generation of speculative literature.

I would rather watch 24 successive viewings of "Eyes Wide Shut" than have to
read the Foundation trilogy again, which is not only abysmally written but
also has one of stupidest premises ever concocted. But chacun a son gout.

Certain films--"Things to
> Come" and "2001: A Space Odyssey"--will be a matter of speculation
> throughout the ages; "Things to Come" remains a frequent film for British
> lit courses even sixty years after its first appearance.

I've never seen "Things to Come." Agree about "2001," for several reasons,
one of which is that it is as pure a relic of the 60s as "Sgt. Pepper."

> So I don't think Wolfe is the only writer who will survive. Of course, in
> centuries to come, who knows who will remain? Homer's work, after all,
> to us completely isolated from its literary tradition.

Oh, I never meant that! I was making a point about his encompassing the big
pulp traditions with these series, using every bit of the familiar cliches
but making them into something bigger and richer so that readers to come
could somehow absorb the 20th c. tradition without having to wade through
the innumerable precursors.

[snip on Melville]

> I think "The Book of the New Sun" is like this, also. Wolfe presents us
> a romance (or a fantasy, if you prefer the modern time), in which a
> torturer's apprentice becomes a king. This is a very familiar,
> plot--the tailor who becomes a prince, the girl with the ash-covered face
> who marries the prince, the pauper who becomes king, etc. But the
> is modernist, experimental.

Well, yes; that was more or less my point.

> It is difficult to label "The Book of the New Sun" that easily, however.
> must keep in mind that it fits within many traditions. It is a heroic
> romance, it is a mythopoeic work, it is a modernist work, and it is also a
> work of science fiction. Maybe assigning one label to the book would
> it of its totality--would allow us to look at only one part of the whole.
> That, of course, is a distinctly modernist thought.  =)

Would back you up.

> To drop another axiom, forewarned is forearmed....

Like Popeye?


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

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