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Date: Thu, 6 Mar 2003 20:51:36 -0800
Subject: (urth) The Book of Typhon part one, revised: Severian's true kingship
From: Lisa Schaffer-Doggett 

Hi everyone, Don here again (not Lisa though I suppose that's=20
appropriate to the gender bending discussions of late :))  Below is=20
what I've been contemplating in my abscence.  Enjoy!

The Book of Typhon, Part One Revised:  Severian as True King

Note:  Please delete the body of this essay in any replies, as it is=20
fairly long.

	=93But it is only fair to warn readers that this remains a very=20=

difficult book, as well as a very queer one, to be avoided by anyone=20
with a distracted, tired or rigidly scientific mind.=94
	The preceding quote is from the Foreward of Robert Graves=92 =
=93The White=20
Goddess=94 (p. 9) and I have included it because it seems equally to=20
apply to Gene Wolfe=92s =93Sun=94 series.  The two works have a great =
deal in=20
common and I would venture to say that it is much more difficult, if=20
not impossible, to get a deeper understanding of Wolfe=92s work without=20=

some familiarity with =93The White Goddess=94.  But that is another=20
argument and my chief interest in Graves with relation to this work of=20=

Wolfe=92s is in the hiding of things.  Things such as Severian=92s and=20=

Silk=92s true identities, and the role of Typhon in the grand scheme of=20=

the work.  And though Graves is my inspiration and guide, I have found=20=

it is possible to discover these and other mysteries using for the most=20=

part only Wolfe.  I don=92t expect that I will convince the unwilling,=20=

but I am confident that I have come up with an interpretation of the=20
text that is internally consistent and compelling in the aggregate of=20
circumstantial evidence.  But let me get to my argument.  It is this;=20
that the =93Sun=94 series, among it=92s other functions, is a complex=20
dynastic novel which Typhon, far from being a secondary character,=20
permeates in his role as the father of Ymar (and thus Severian) and in=20=

his role as Silk, who is Typhon=92s clone.  This part of the essay will=20=

deal with Severian=92s ancestry.
	The main stumbling block to my theory is that Severian=92s =
parentage is=20
pretty well agreed upon.  His mother is Katherine and his father is=20
Ouen, whose mother is Dorcas, making her Severian=92s grandmother.  But=20=

is this correct?  I believe it isn=92t.  The only certainty is that=20
Dorcas is Ouen=92s mother.  Ouen denies ever impregnating Katherine, and=20=

the only evidence that Ouen could be Severian=92s father is that they=20
look strikingly similar in profile. (Sword and Citadel, p 402).  This=20
is hardly compelling.  In addition, it is thematically weak.  If Dorcas=20=

is Severian=92s grandmother then he is committing incest in a manner =
makes no sense mythopoeicly.  The incest only makes sense if she is his=20=

sister or his mother.   Equally, the archetypes clinging to Severian=92s=20=

character point in a different direction.  Ouen makes a much stronger=20
adoptive father in the vein of Joseph the carpenter, or Sir Hector, as=20=

Severian obviously parallels to an extent both Jesus and Arthur.  But=20
the truth is much stranger than this and I will approach it later.
	If you accept that Wolfe is using the =93King Jesus=94 model for =
which I do, considering the marks of sacred kingship that they both=20
share, the lameness and the facial scar, then the previous are two=20
models for a hidden king.  A third involves Vodalus, the liege of=20
leaves, a regular Robin Hood with Hildegrin as his Little John, trying=20=

to bring a return to the monarchy, waiting for Richard to return. =20
Which he does, in disguise of course.  Severian is a perfect Richard;=20
witness his grand entrance into Vodalus=92 lair, and I=92m reasonably=20
certain that Vodalus is on to him, much as Robin knows Richard before=20
he is revealed.   And, without taking too much liberty, I can carry=20
these thematic parallels a degree deeper:  Jesus (at least in King=20
Jesus) is descended from Herod, who Graves takes pains to tie to the=20
god Typhon,  Arthur is the son of Uther, another good Typhonic (Urth=92s=20=

Typhon)  model, and Richard is the son of Henry who, if you=92ve seen =
Lion in Winter or given a cursory study to medieval history, you will=20
recognize as Typhon=92s near twin.  And isn=92t Echidna (wife of =
in LS and wife of Typhon in myth)  Eleanor of Aquitaine in simulacrum?

To bolster this thematic argument of a =93return of the king=94 I give =
the Autarchs themselves:
	=91=93. . . the minds he brought to us, which we touch only =
faintly even=20
now, are not, with one or two exceptions, those of genius.  Most are=20
only common men and women, sailors and artisans, farmwives and wantons.=20=

  Most of the rest are eccentric second-rate scholars of the sort Thecla=20=

used to laugh at.=94=92 (Sword, p 380)  The Autarchs sound very much =
stewards to me, placeholders.

The eidolon Malrubius hints at Severian=92s bloodline as well:
	=91=94The animal that rests beside you now would die for you.  =
Of what=20
kind is his attachment to  you?=94
	=93The first?=94=92 (Shadow, p. 198) by which he is saying =
=93Attachment to=20
the person of the Monarch.=94  In the interest of length I have left out=20=

most of the passage (Shadow, pp. 197-8) but it has always seemed=20
cryptic to me and it has occured to me that it can be read=20
analeptically  to hint that =93First is the monarchy (Typhon) and you =
also the Monarch.=94
	Now admittedly, this is hardly convincing on its own.  But the =
meat is in the various clues, many of them =93pied=94 (to use Graves =
and all of them out of order in the text of TBotNS.
	The first clue is The Tale of the Boy Called Frog .  For =
sake I=92ll assume everyone=92s read it.  On the surface it seems to be =
story told around Little Severian.  Frog is raised by woodcutters and=20
then orphaned and sheltered by the Black Killer (Severian) and the=20
naked one (Apu Punchau).  In a very real sense this is the case, but=20
there is more to this.  Spring Wind, the father of Frog and Fish, is=20
Typhon, aka Typhoon, which is a spring storm.  Wolfe hides this=20
cleverly in two ways:  First, the story occurs before Typhon is=20
introduced and second, the name Spring Wind seems Asian in origin and=20
makes the story seem as if it comes from the First Empire.  The Black=20
Killer who shelters Frog, is the Torturers Guild, and the Naked One,=20
who has =93never had a son of Meschia to teach,=94 is none other than=20
Father Inire who according to the Lexicon Urthus is the =93vizier to=20
countless Autarchs since Ymar=94.  He occurs as the Naked One in Sword=20=

and Citadel as the bent and masked guide (pp. 350-1).  And here we have=20=

the answer:  Ymar is the bastard son of Typhon, Frog, sheltered by the=20=

Black Killer and taught by the Naked One, who rules by the red flower.
	Great, so where does Severian fit into this?  Jonas tells us.  =
knows who Severian is, hence the story of the =93black beans=94 (Shadow =
209)  The =93beans=94 I=92m sure we can agree, are embryos and black is =
as a description almost exclusively to signify something to do with=20
Severian or the Torturers.  Black Sun (a name of the Conciliator) Black=20=

Killer are two examples.  I posit that the =93handful of black beans=94 =
the embryonic clones of Ymar, brought from the stars where Ymar left to=20=

try to bring the New Sun and right his father=92s wrong.  I have found=20=

five of these black beans.  They are:
The Mandragora
Little Severian
Master Palaemon
Note the age progression, the life stages of man.  Hardly proof you=20
say.  But there=92s more.  Listen to Dr. Talos:
=91=94The castle?  The monster?  The man of learning?  I only just =
of it.  Surely you know that just as the momentous events of the past=20
cast their shadows down the ages, so now, when the sun is drawing=20
toward the dark, our own shadows race into the past to trouble mankinds=20=

dreams.=94=92 (Sword p. 186)  He is saying that the past and present=20
influence and echo each other.  The resonance between Severian and the=20=

Mandragora needs no explanation.  Little Severian is raised by=20
woodcutters and orphaned, and again there is the name.  (This brings up=20=

the sinister implication, reinforced by Graves, that Little Severian=20
might not have died accidentally but was a surrogate sacrifice for Big=20=

Sev. but that=92s another topic.)  Severian was born of a monial, raised=20=

by torturers, and there=92s the incident with Triskele which is=20
paralleled by the only anecdote given about Ymar:  his chasing of the=20
dog.  Palaemon is exiled to Thrax as a Journeyman with Terminus Est for=20=

some unknown offence, most likely showing mercy to a client.  And Ouen.=20=

  The two look identical for one thing.  The other parallel is tricky=20
and somewhat circular.  Severian has a relationship with Dorcas who is=20=

Ouen=92s =93mother=94.  Ouen has a relationship with Katherine, =
=93mother=94 but, since they are both genetically the same person they =
both also Oedipus.  Now Severian=92s relationship with Dorcas makes=20
perfect thematic sense, as does her comments to Severian prior to sex=20
of =93Won=92t I be too small?=94  She isn=92t speaking of going in but =
coming out, a reflection of her death during childbirth.  This also is=20=

her instant connection with Severian. She loves him because he is her=20
son (as Ouen) but in her ignorance of her previous living life confuses=20=

these feelings with romantic love.
	So, who is Severian=92s sister?  The answer is that Severian=92s =
sister is=20
Ymar=92s sister, Fish, who was buried beneath the walls of the city, or=20=

more accurately, lives in a place that must be reached by travelling=20
underground.  The Atrium of Time.  Valeria is Severian=92s sister and =
wife, Pharaonic style.  This is why they don=92t have sex.  =93I am all=20=

sisters we breed, and all the sons.=94 she too is a clone.  The brother=20=

sun, sister moon theme is also reinforced in Graves.  (This however,=20
does not preclude Merryn from also being Severian=92s sister.)  If you=20=

analyze Valeria=92s words to Severian they are quite ambiguous and could=20=

easily be words of sisterly love.
	I=92ve said this before and I=92ll reiterate:  Ymar is the other =
that Sev speaks of (Sword pp. 405-6).  =93He too was reared by =
I think. . . and so, even as I, he (who in the final sense is and was=20
myself) became Autarch in turn and sailed beyond the candles of night.=20=

. . He was not returned to his own time but became himself a walker of=20=

the corridors. . . I know too in whose mausoleum I tarried as a child,=20=

that little building of stone with its rose, its fountain, and its=20
flying ship all graven.  I have disturbed my own tomb, and now I go to=20=

lie in it.=94  Ymar has done all of these things  and he ruled =
to the tale of Frog) by the red flower, the rose.  The other Severian=20
is not named Severian.  Again Graves reinforces this thematically on=20
page 321 of The White Goddess, but I really think this essay won=92t =
much more exposition and have a place on this list.  The evidence of=20
Severian=92s lineage, while circumstantial and riddling, is compelling=20=

and, I think, correct.

Addendum:  I looked up the name Ymar on the net and it means Ox in=20
Hebrew.  This is from King Jesus p.219:  '"How do you say "ox" in=20
Hebrew?"  "We say Aleph."'


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