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From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes" <ddanehy@siebel.com>
Subject: (urth) Symmetrical Fearfulness
Date: Wed, 7 Feb 2001 15:04:15 

Responding to Talarican's list of twinnings, Tom Urash observed:

> And let's not forget "little Severian", struck down whilst trying
> to reach the golden ring upon the hand of Typhon's monument/mountain.

... nor that little Severian is himself half of a dyad with 
Severa, making the Big/Little Severian dyad somehow flawed; 
and the deeply-flawed dyad of Agila and Agilus. Thecla and 
Thea come similarly to mind.

This begins to wander afield from simple twinning: much of 
the impact of BotNS comes from the way characters are paired, 
either in (true or false) dyads or in contrast (for example, 
Dorcas and Jolenta). As Father Inire might observe, the book
is constructed of reflections that reflect reflections until 
something real is forced to materialize. Relations reflect 
each other: most notably Severian's various relations with 
Thecla, Agia, Dorcas, Jolenta, Cyriaca ... all of these 
relationships seem despite or through their radical flaws to 
attempt to force a true love relationship to materialize.

(Does one materialize? Near the heart of the story is a 
"magic square" of characters:

                  |                 |
                  X                 |
                  |                 |

Thecla and Vodalus have no real relationship, except as 
mediated through Severian or Thea; Thea and Severian have 
no real relationship except as mediated through Vodalus
or Thecla. But through the alchemy of these mediated
relations the broken relation between Sev and Thecla is
revived, albeit in a radically different form. Can there
be a true love relationship between Sev and Thecla after
the communion in the woods? Or is that only amour-propre?)

Perhaps this is part of what makes UotNS unsatisfactory 
by comparison? It's hardly a _bad_ book; indeed, by the
standards of almost any other writer, it would be a 
masterpiece. But the things and relations in URTH don't 
reflect each other the way they do in NS proper. (This is 
also true of LS, and appears to be true of SS, but LS & 
SS have their own, quite different, structures ...) 

-- all of which is not to say that URTH doesn't have its
own (and quite different) structural integrity: it does. 
But because of its status as a pendant to NS, the reader 
expects and, more, wants to find those reflections, and 
finds only their echoes. 

(What is the echo of a reflection? Can it force a real 
sound to materialize?)


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

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