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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

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?


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