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From: Jim Jordan <jbjordan@gnt.net>
Subject: (urth) Brothels
Date: Thu, 06 Apr 2000 17:52:35 

<excerpt>At 02:08 PM 3/30/00 +1000, you wrote: 


Finally, does Wolfe have a thing about brothels or what?  Featured
prominently in 5HC and the Long Sun series, and also in TBNS, especially
Shadow.  Where does this interest come from I wonder?  Korean War? 


	The brothel is a counterfeit of the Church, the Great Harlot of the Book
of Revelation. That's pretty clear in 5HC, where the address is 666
Street of the Counterfeit (Humbug). The line of clones is pretty much the
Antichrist, as the chilling last line of the first novella hints, a
self-contained humanity trying to achieve transcendence without true
interaction with others, without heterogeneity. Harlots are the same:
women without true marriages, children, lives -- stuck in sterility and
doomed to a sad fate at the end: used up and cast out. Sterility versus
heterogeneity seems to be pretty much the theme of the triad of novellas,
and is seen later on as the humans try to wipe out the aborigenes, who
try to become human (heterogeneously); is seen in the practice of
slavery; etc.

	In Shadow, I take it that this state-run brothel is like the Harlot of
Revelation, who rides on the back of the Beast (state power). Again, a
counterfeit of true love, of the Rose of Severian's grave, the Rose for
which he searches, and in terms of which search he never makes the
mistake of visiting the brothel again. (The symbolism may make more sense
when you realize how much a role the sacraments of baptism and communion
play in the Severian narrative, both in positive and "counterfeited"
forms.) The brothel here is also part of the perversity of the Autarchy,
a form of "circuses" maintained to keep the population in line ("Wanna
make it with an exultant? Well, here's your chance, buddy!"). Wonder why
this world needs to be washed clean in a new flood? 

	Finally, in Nightside, the counterpoise of brothel and manteion is,
shall we say, pregnant with meaning. Again, later on, Silk's love for
Hyacinth is Christ's love for His wayward bride. It's all pretty

	So, I don't think we should try to pry into Wolfe's personal life for
this. It is very standard Christian symbolism.


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

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