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From: Alex David Groce <Alex_Groce@gs246.sp.cs.cmu.edu>
Subject: Re: (urth) True Confession?
Date: Fri, 05 Nov 1999 12:56:46 

Well, Severian TELLS us he's a liar, etc.  But I'm still unclear about what
you and Clute think he's lying about in a major way--Wolfe's narrators are,
in my opinion, for the most part unreliable in not giving the whole truth,
but only part of it.  I really can't think of any instances (other than things
that are just odd--who said what on page #1) where Severian outright lies.
Of course, if he's lying consistently, there's no way we can tell--but that
undermines the entire narrative, and also (to me) seems out of whack with
Severian's role as bringer of the New Sun (unless we're to doubt that, too).
The minor oddities--well, Severian may be lying about who was at the gate, but
WHY?  It's a very strange thing to (baldly) lie about, since it seems to have
no real importance.  I think Severian lies to other people in the narrative,
but other than dodging the uncomfortable is reasonably honest (given that even
perfect memory cannot grant him complete understanding of his own story) to
US.  Anyway, I've always felt that Severian was writing has narrative more for
himself than for others--his slinging them into the Seas of Time is a romantic
gesture, but he's amazingly lucky that they ended up in Mr. Wolfe's back yard.
:)  In which case he may state things that are not completely true (his
claim that Jolenta & Dorcas were sexually involved) but these are the self-
deceptions that the non-Divine are prone to (and Severian, despite his post-
human state at the end of Urth is still clearly not Divine).  In this sense,
ALL narrators are liars.

I think Severian's sometimes stingy with facts, but that the hypothesis that 
he's a serious liar is the quick path to total literary solipsism.

By the way, I noticed this past week that Ask and Embla are mentioned in C. S. 
Lewis' PERELANDRA--I wonder if that sparked their inclusion in Wolfe (we know
he's read Lewis).  The whole Lewis trilogy has an interesting feel compared to
Wolfe--I think the visions of the cosmos in it are actually more similar than
might be thought to Wolfe's in BOTNS--Lewis is just vastly less subtle about

Natural theology, at least to the extent that God's existence is knowable from
observation of the natural world and the application of reason, is, if not a
declared item of the faith, at least standard Catholic theology (ob: Aquinas).
On the other hand, Silk's experience in Long Sun is a direct revelation, and
so cannot be reasoned from natural experience.

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32
Alex David Groce (agroce+@cs.cmu.edu)
Ph.D. Student, Carnegie Mellon University - Computer Science Department
8112 Wean Hall (412)-268-3066

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

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