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From: "Jonathan Laidlow" <LAIDLOJM@hhs.bham.ac.uk>
Subject: (urth) Cyriaca
Date: Fri, 11 Aug 2000 09:31:15 GMT

Hi Jim,

Thanks for a stimulating suggestion for rereading portions of 
'Sword of the Lictor' again, specifically chapters 5-7, if anyone 
needs the reference.

A few thoughts in addition to those already posted. Sadly they take 
the form of questions, as I'm still puzzled myself:

What relevance does the context of the story have? Specifically - 
Cyriaca is a fallen woman - a failed Pelerine (Roman Catholic nun 
analogue?). Her eyes weren't right  - which is suggestive of either a 
failure of vision (she could not 'see' the truth which a Pelerine must) 
or that she saw too much, that she had knowledge, specifically the 
worldly knowledge of sex. Certainly after leaving the Pelerines she 
enters into the fallen world of Eve, and she is to be killed for her 
promiscuity. She also seduces our hero, not that he complains. All 
this suggests the fallen world of post-Edenic humanity, where 
knowledge is the cause of the fall.

2. The archive is quite obviously, in one sense, a mythology of the 
library of Nessus. Cyriaca suggests that it is in Nessus and that it 
has a guardian. A library is a repository of knowledge, after all.

3. The story is also quite evocative of the story of Pandora's box 
and the evil knowledge loosed on the world, although here the 
knowledge is not absolute evil. Indeed, by giving up their 
knowledge of base Earthly things the beings lose something. They 
lose more when the knowledge is regained.

4. Why does Severian state that he knows 'more of it than you, but I 
had never heard it before' (end chap 6) What is he referring to? The 
obvious answer is the library of Master Ultan, but there are probably 
more answers which the denizens of Urth can drag up. Anyone?


Jonathan Laidlow
Editor, Ultan's Library
An electronic journal for the study of Gene Wolfe
email: J.M.Laidlow@bham.ac.uk

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

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