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From: Ron Hale-Evans <rwhe@apocalypse.org>
Subject: Re: (urth) True Confession?
Date: Fri, 05 Nov 1999 11:43:38 

At 12:56 PM 11/5/99 -0500, you wrote:
>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
>that are just odd--who said what on page #1) where Severian outright lies.

My take on Sev's claim to be a liar is that he is attempting to be as
truthful as possible. That is, I have always thought of it in light of the
saying that the greatest saints are the most aware that they are great
sinners. No one is truthful all the time, and  anyone who says he is not a
liar is an even bigger liar, and not to be trusted. Severian's very
admission that he is a liar provides a certain amount of paradoxical
evidence that he is a trustworthy narrator, given what we know of his

If Severian were really concerned about saving face with his readers, or
his place in posthistory, or whatever, would he have admitted that he raped
Jolenta, for example? It seems more likely to me that Severian's lies are
likely to be in places where it doesn't matter -- he might have some hangup
about something he did as a child, for example, that no other adult person
would hold against him for a second.

It is possible his "lies" are lies of omission; we already know he leaves
things out. But there are alternative explanations for this as well that
others here have already mentioned -- things that are interesting to us are
not necessarily interesting to Severian, etc..

I am willing to grant that I have not read closely enough, and it has been
a few years since I last read the Urth cycle anyway. (I am in the early
stages of another reading at the moment.) Can *anyone* on the list provide
more than one or two examples of Sev lying to the reader in a situation
where it mattered?

Ron H-E
Ron Hale-Evans: rwhe@apocalypse.org  ... <http://www.apocalypse.org/~rwhe/>
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