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From: "Daniel Fusch" <dfusch@hotmail.com>
Subject: Re: (urth) modernism
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 1999 13:01:19 PDT


"I add this (depressing) thought:
	Wolfe's writing may be so complex, and so dependent on the tropes of SF, 
that he will never make it into a "canon." It is hard to imagine non-SF 
people reading it and thinking much of it, save that it is "weird and
well-written, but what on earth is he talking about?"
	Anybody have anything more positive to put out against such a negative 

Mind if I put out something positive against that negative thought? 
Actually, I'm not sure whether it is positive or not. But here goes....

I think you could define me as a technically non-SF person. That is to say, 
I have read relatively little science fiction--mostly that which has made it 
up into the upper "literary" spheres of the academic universe. I can't 
profess to be very familiar with the teeming ocean beneath--just as I cannot 
profess to be very familiar with the truly vast genre of Victorian mystery, 
despite my familiarity with those authors who broke the surface and caused 
such a disturbance that they remain to this day.

(Having said that, I hope you all don't decide to stone me!)

Also, so far as I know, there are a great many people who enjoy science 
fiction but who do not enjoy Wolfe; science fiction is not traditionally 
modernist (there I go bringing up modernism again!)

Anyway, when I said that Wolfe was unlikely to receive much critical 
attention for some time to come, I actually had two reasons in mind:

A. Like you say, Wolfe can be categorized on SF (although I would argue with 
that word "dependent" -- if I were in a nasty and nitpicky mood). Back in 
the 40s, science fiction was unfortunately identified with pulp and comic 
books--even though Mary Shelley, H.G. Wells, Rudyard Kipling, and many other 
"literary" authors had experimented with the form in the previous century. 
This prejudice lasts to this day. The truth of the matter, of course, is 
that there are both notable and un-notable authors in ALL genres--mainstream 
or otherwise.

B. "The Book of the New Sun" is less than twenty years old. Since Wolfe has 
not enjoyed the instant popularity of Tolkien or Dickens, he has not 
received immediate attention. --Remember, also, that Moby Dick went 
unnoticed for decades. Time is a factor.

Well, I suppose all that wasn't very positive after all. I suppose my point 
is: give it a few decades.


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