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From: Michael Straight <straight@email.unc.edu>
Subject: Re: (urth) PEACE: is Weer's biography knowable? (long)
Date: Mon, 4 Dec 2000 14:09:01 

On Sun, 3 Dec 2000, Adam Stephanides wrote:

> Furthermore, there are cogent arguments against Weer's being the culprit
> (which I won't go into now, because that's not my point).  If, despite
> all this, I favor the hypothesis that Weer is the culprit, it's because
> I feel that PEACE is a more coherent book when read that way.  But this
> is a matter of taste; if someone were to say that to them PEACE was more
> coherent if Weer's narrative were taken as truthful in this case, I
> would not be able to argue them out of it.

You see this as if it were a negative thing, but I think this is the most
interesting way to talk about a book.  If PEACE is a more coherent book
and more asethetically satisfying if you conclude that Weer is the
culprit, then evidence to the contrary amounts to an artistic mistake on
Wolfe's part.  

You say that this amounts to a matter of taste and we can't argue about
that.  But we do.  One of the more interesting disussions on this list was
when someone expressed dislike for the Long Sun books and others lept in
to defend them and to describe what they liked, what they thought the
books did well.  Whether or not they were able to argue that person out of
their opinion, they gave me an opportunity to notice and appreciate
aspects of the books I'd missed the first time.

The first time I read Urth of the New Sun, I hated the idea that Severian
himself was the Concilator and disliked the book.  But after reading other
people's comments on the series, I see things I had missed that makes it
all fit together much better and my opinion of the book has changed.

I'm somewhat interested in finding out what Wolfe meant, but only as one
of various means to the end of helping me get the most enjoyment out of
his books.  (This ain't law or scripture - I'm not reading Wolfe to try to
figure out what exactly two contracted parties had agreed to or to figure
out how God wants me to live - this is just for fun!)  So, for me, the
best reading of PEACE is the one that I find most aesthetically
satisfying.  Coherence is an important part of that, but I'm not above
setting aside this or that bit of evidence if it means I can better enjoy
the whole.


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

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