From: "Andrew Bollen"
Subject: Re: (urth) Typhon, Sev, Silk Date: Thu, 13 Mar 2003 18:10:44 +1100 Matt says: I think you're off base here. Wolfe is presenting Severian as a human being who is in the process of becoming more Christ-like (i.e. as a Christian). Severian's arrest occurs near the beginning of his journey, if I'm remembering correctly. His actions at the arrest remind me more of St. Peter at Gethsemane than of Christ. If Wolfe is indeed the Catholic he claims to be, regarding Christ as a wimp would pose something of a problem of faith. ----------------------- Well, it happens very late in the story, really. By then, he's been confirmed as the New Sun, and almost completed his brief "ministry" on Typhon-era Urth. If lethal self-defence and the slaying of evil prison warders & tyrants are un-Christian acts, then it seems he still has a long way to go in his imitation of Christ by the time the story draws to a close. Perhaps Wolfe's point may be that men (even paragons like Severian) are bound by the evil choices of fallen humanity; and Christ's sacrifice was a unique act of compassion by God, not to be repeated. To be a Peter is the practicable summit of human aspiration. Or something. Maybe he would take a view that the important lessons for humanity in Christ's day were compassion & a degree of selflessness, qualities which I believe Wolfe in some interview rightly asserted as being lacking in conventional ethics pre-Christ. Sev's society on the other hand is quite emphatically post-Christian, IMO: it is rough & tough, because of resource constraints, but moderated in many ways by something like a Christian ethic. The Byzantine strand in the underpinning of the fictional world shows through: the society "feels" like Byzantium under one of the more enlightened, military emperors, not the hell-on-earth which was the pre-Christian Roman empire. Such a (potentially, partially) "redeemed" world needs struggle against evil, more than a spectacular act of love like Christ's. But I find it easier to believe that Wolfe simply views active struggle against evil, where possible, as morally superior to passive resistance. Expressing that view in a story paralleling Christ's arrest & execution is the kind of thing which IMO lifts Wolfe out of his genre. It also, of course, raises doubts about his orthodoxy. In 1st C Jerusalem, would he have been a Zealot, or a Christian? --