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From: Jeremy Crampton <jcrampto@gmu.edu>
Subject: (urth) Re: Digest urth.v028.n079
Date: Sat, 06 Nov 1999 12:10:57 

><<<<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.>>>>>>>>

Aren't we forgetting to distinguish between Severian's lies to us, the
privileged reader, and his lies to the other characters? The number of lies
and deceptions in this latter category is fairly significant. In the larger
sense, Severian has cast his narrative into the ocean of time for people to
read, and that is why Clute is so correct to call it a "confession". But
even while confessing, he makes further lies.

Here are some lies or deliberate deceptions that in my opinion Severian
makes in only the first two chapters of Shadow (Timescape paperback):

Lies to others:
p. 8 claims to be a Vodalarius to Vodalus himself and since V. might not
believe this, further claims that there are "thousands" of Vodalarii of
which V. is unaware (confesson to us: he'd in fact hardly heard the term at
p. 16 pretends to drink the hot drink provided him

Lies to the reader:
p. 2 perfection of his memory
p. 3 again, claims perfect memory
p. 4 "I had almost died that day". In fact, he did die, but does not reveal
the full truth at this point. [Later dives for his skull in vol 5].
p. 9 (chap 2) another claim about his memory
p. 9 "I have never known my father or mother" but later in chapter possibly
remembers his mother (p. 15 lying in a cell on his back he hears a woman
p. 11-12 incomplete truth about the person in the mausaleum and why it
looks like him (I would say this is a narrative deception to provide
foreshadowing and gradual revelation of Severian's story--a "lie" by Wolfe

Lies to himself:
p. 7 "half pretends" that he is executing "miserable vagrants" for Vodalus,
who are "less valuable than cattle" (p. 14).

And don't forget some lies by others:
p. 3 Drotte to leader of volunteers about being physicians' gallipots and
collecting herbs (several good ones).

Also don't forget that Severian without hesitation murders a man he
considers to be "stupid and innocent...a laborer"!

Other people might dispute some of these or select different examples, and
certainly the examples I've chosen are not equal in importance. But the
point is that it's surprisingly easy to find examples. The other point is
that Sev. is often very honest, even to the detriment of our image of him
(eg., p. 9 tells us the only value he absorbed from his guild was loyalty
to it, which makes his eventual betrayal of it such a tough thing to do).
Jeremy W. Crampton		         http://geog.gmu.edu    jcrampto@gmu.edu
Dept. of Geography & Earth Science
[MS 1E2]				’Tis true; there’s magic in the web of it.
George Mason University					--Othello (III.iv.69)
Fairfax, Va 22030

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

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