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From: "Roy C. Lackey" <rclackey@stic.net>
Subject: (urth) True Confession?
Date: Fri, 5 Nov 1999 00:05:07 

In the context of the recent discussion of the veracity of Severian's
narrative; on Fri, 22 Oct 1999, I wrote:

>>Why write a memoir at all that purports to be a true and accurate account
of one's adventures, bring up wondrous and even momentous events, then leave
so many of them unexplained? In the context of the fictional memoirs it
makes no sense unless their author is hiding something, whether from the
reader or from himself, which is hard to do when you have a perfect memory.
In this sense, Severian is an unreliable narrator.<<

Compare that with this excerpt from John Clute's review of OBW, recently
cited on the Whorl list:
( http://www.scifi.com/sfw/current/excess.html )

>>The four-volume Book of the New Sun, set inconceivably deep down the
aisles of the future upon a world called Urth (it is our own Earth
transfigured by time), professes to be the "confession" of Severian, the
torturer's apprentice who becomes Autarch of his Brazil-like country, and
who eventually redeems his folk by bringing about the coming of a New Sun--a
white hole which scalds and drowns and cleanses the sacred Urth. But
Severian himself has much to hide, and the text of his "confession" has
become a honeypot for puzzle-solving readers. Severian's memoriousness--he
cannot forget a thing--has been deeply analyzed, as have his family (which
he never identifies) and the actions he undertakes to gain the throne (which
he lies about, for he is a liar).<<

It seems that I am not alone in my assessment of Severian being an
unreliable narrator, and that the rather glaring lacunae in his narrative
are not just quirks of his (or Wolfe's) writing style. Sev is not being
truthful. And Clute seems to think Severian an even bigger liar than did I.


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

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