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From: Marc A Aramini <maa32@dana.ucc.nau.edu>
Subject: (urth) Peace redemption, little bit on New Sun and false family (long)
Date: Mon, 13 Nov 2000 21:36:54 

I have always read the final lines of the text of Peace as a redemptive
purification, a return to the "brand new" state of the ax which is so
originally used as a metaphor for purity in the opening sections of
Peace.  The apples which incite A.D. Weer (or, as I like to think of
him, "man after Christ" which is a possible reading of his name) to kill
Bobby Black due to their assault against his dead ancestor's picture
also signify the fall from grace which begins the biblical comedy of
man.  The sidhe receive eternal life only through Jesus Christ in the
final story of the book, and the tale of the green pillow which is
metafictionally marked as "important" before its relation in the book
implies a return to the brand new state of the unbloodied ax, and while
Weer cannot relive his life from a theologically sound Catholic
interpretation, the spiritual power lurking behind Peace may be
sufficient to make those marks on his soul as if they had never were in
the first place.  I really like to read those lines as the hopes not
only of the resurrection of the body, but as the inevitability of a
spiritual and metaphysical purging of Weer's stained soul,  perhaps a
heretical return to the divine logos.

Also, I have been interested in the doubling of Severian's family in the
Book of the New Sun.  Mr. Borski kindly corresponded with me about one
of my previous theories that Pia was in fact Severian's sister, but he
cited several flaws in my theory, mainly dealing with the positioning of
the river in respect to Nessus.  His insight was invaluable.  Pia cannot
move upstream, so Severian had to move downstream for my theory to hold
any water.  I have reread the text since then, and I find it odd that in
fact there are two possibilities for Severian's family tree, a shadow of
the rampant myths that Panteras the roman soldier actually impregnated
Mary and begot Jesus, who covered her pregnancy with her marriage to
Joseph.  These secular tales of Christ are of course only bawdy tales,
but they are commonly known.  
At the end of Citadel of the Autarch, Severian speaks with the
Mandragora.  The oddest part of the conversation is the question: do you
remember being in the basket as a child.  Severian replies that he does
remember being in the basket.  Well well well.  From the story of Fish
and Frog in Sword of the Lictor, we have the twins going downstream in a
basket, reenacting Moses' little journey.  We also have Cyriaca
speculating "I could be your mother." during their tryst at the
begininning of The Sword of the Lictor, and the possibility that
Severian floats downstream from the river to Nessus in a basket, perhaps
begotten by Paleamon on his exile, or recovered by him (I'm still not
certain of the timeline which definitively places the exile of the
Master Torturer).  Here we have a "false family" for Severian, Pia as
sister, Severian as brother floating downstream to Nessus, perhaps
Cyriaca as mother, a shadow family in addition to the dubious Merryn as
sister, Dorcas as grandmother, Ouen as father, Katherine as mother.  
And here we come to the concept of free will: Wolfe knows that in order
for creation to be justified there must be enough evil to permit real
free will.  Indeed, the height of free will lies in choosing what
stories to believe.  The secular historian may choose to believe that
Panteras and Mary slept together, the man of faith my choose to believe
that Jesus had more divine origins.  In any case, reflected in the text
we find an expression of free will:  we can choose which family and
which fate to ascribe to Severian, who foolishly believes in the
perspicuity and one to one relationship of words to ideas when even the
name of his world holds multiple meanings.
	Several other technical features of The Book of the New Sun are simply
astounding.  Every descriptive metaphor and simile remains heliocentric,
the sun stays stationary while the tides and the earth rise to meet it. 
The preponderance of flood imagery in the descriptions are also
amazing:  they foreshadow the subsequent flooding of the earth countless
times during the text, when Severian feels as if he is going to float up
into the sky, as into a waterway.  This imagery is especially thick in
The Claw of the Conciliator and The Sword of the Lictor.  Another of my
favorite aspects of the text lies in its beautiful juxtaposition of
water imagery, the loss of Terminus Est, and the inexplicably
miraculous:  Severian loses his Sword in the water where he then
resurrects dorcas; he drops his sword in the water at Saltus where he
then heals the man-ape; his Sword causes him to stumble several times as
he releases the floodgates at the opening of The Sword of the Lictor
when he flees the city, then his claw heals the prisoners (that passage
is especially full of resurrection and miracle imagery);  on Mt. Typhoon
he almost drops his sword while looking out on a sky that seems like a
huge expanse of ocean (he uses his sword, planted in the ground as a
cross, to climb out of the hand of typhoon after little Severian dies
and he cannot raise him).  finally, he returns Terminus Est, the cross,
to the water of Lake Diuturna at the end of The Sword of the Lictor. 
All of this prefigures the flood at the end of Urth of the New Sun, the
consequence of his new sun.  Incidentally, I am aware that many people
have compared the Book of the New Sun to Remembrance of Things Past, and
the most striking similarity is the evoking of involuntary memory
through food:  Marcel gains his memory back from eating a Madelaine with
Tea, Severian gains the memory of others from eating various brains with
alzabo analeptic.  How fascinating.  I am sure much of this is old news,
but I find these little unifying details truly fascinating, and I wanted
to share some of my thoughts with those who truly appreciate the
creative artistry and aesthetic craftsmanship of Wolfe.

Marc Aramini

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

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