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From: Ouroboros The Worm <ottofaij@yahoo.com>
Subject: (urth) Re: Untrustworthy Narrators?
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 1999 12:13:11 

This is my first posting here so please be gentle.
I've done a search of the archives and I didn't find
the following point discussed anywhere.
Regarding whether Sev is an untrustworthy narrator, of
course he is. It always bothered me that Severian
keeps telling us over and over and over again that he
never forgets anything. I read an interview of Wolfe
where he said that he never gave the same hint twice.
He said he hated it when writers keep bringing up the
same details over and over to make sure the reader
doesn't miss it when he felt perfectly capable of
catching it the first time. So why does Severian keep
droning on about his memory? Because it's a red
But Wolfe gives us a quick glimpse up his sleeve at
the end of chapter three of TSOTT. Here Severian
admits to being a habitual liar and suspecting his own
sanity, but that not the truely twisted part. He also
says, "...I who remembered everything could not be
certain those memories were more than my own dreams."
So the inconsistency between whether Drotte or Roche
says he sees pikes at the beginning of the first
chapter is probably not an error on Wolfe's part. The
one part of a book every writer is sure to get perfect
is the first page and that's where this occurs. And
Wolfe hands us another hint on the first page too:
 "In the recesses of my mind we stand shivering there
even now. Just as all that appears imperishable [like
Severian's memory?] tends toward its own destruction,
those moments that at the time seem the most fleeting
*recreate* themselves--*not only in my
memory*....*making themselves new just as our
Commonwealth reconstitutes itself each morning in the
shrill tones of its own clarions* <emphasis added>
Now unless this is a hint, it's lousy writing in the
context of the story and if I were his editor I would
have encouraged him to throw it out.  It drags down
the story, and as a mere florish, is un-Lupine. But
actually, Wolfe is telling us that Severian's memory
reconstitutes, recreates itself every day and so does
the rest of the world.
Wolfe further explored this concept in "Soldier in the
Mist": a soldier who forgets eveything that happened
to him the day before--all he has is his diary which
he reads and adds to every day, but which he can be no
more certain is true than we are. He can't even be
certain he wrote it, or if someone else added to it.
In SITM, Wolfe uses this concept as metaphor for myth
and history. I think he's doing something else with it
I think this would be a good point for some input in
the way Wolfe uses the theory of "quantum tunneling"
to investigate Being. Anybody?


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