FIND in
<--prev V307 next-->
From: "Chris" 
Subject: Re: (urth) TBOTNS, Sev's last line
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2003 19:31:04 +0000

I agree with pretty much all of the comments about The Book as a political 
document, there are a large number of independent factors that all work 
against The Book being effective in this way.

Mantis' comments lead me to think that it may be even more important to find 
an answer to another, related question: what were Severian's expectations, 
should he succeed? I have commented before that up until a certain point in 
UotNS Severian seems downright naive about the potential destruction when 
the New Sun comes. Or, if he knew about the destruction, then at the very 
least he was naive about how people were going to react to it. This seems 
particularly difficult to reconcile, given that Talos' play gave him all the 
foreshadowing he could possibly need - if he actually gave any thought to 

The first major possibility is that he knew, and for whatever reason chose 
to gloss over this aspect in his account of his expectations. Without 
attempting to guess his motive for such a move, there are a couple of 
difficulties that need to be resolved (and might point the way to his 
motive). The first is that his projected readers (for the copy in the 
Library - the copy that he tossed into the void is another matter) are 
mostly people who will have already experienced the coming of the New Sun. 
They will know full well what happened when the New Sun came, the only thing 
they might be deceived about is whether Severian expected it. The second is, 
did he expect the Library to survive the Deluge and be accessible to people 
under the New Sun? [Side question: *Did* it survive, and *was* it 
accessible? I can only make a philosophical answer, which is no better than 
a guess unless you happen to agree with my philosophical interpretation].

The second possibility is that he knew, and that he assumed everyone else 
would know, and that everyone would agree to the necessity of these 
consequences without qualms or any need to justify them. Being a torturer he 
makes some odd assumptions about human nature sometimes. This avoids one of 
the difficulties above, but still makes one wonder what good it does to put 
the book in the Library when civilization is going to be destroyed. This is 
perhaps the least problematic explanation, but seems weak to me; even if he 
assumed everyone would see it his way, it would still seem to be worth a 

The last possibility I can think of is that he simply didn't know. Severian 
is a good critical thinker, but emotionally immature in some ways. He seems 
prone to a certain amount of "wishful thinking" where he simply chooses not 
to accept or examine certain things. His cherished coin from Vodalus and the 
supposed letter from Thecla, or his dealings with Agia in general might be 
examples of this.

In this I've repeated some points that Mantis and others have already 
brought up, in the interest of keeping some kind of structure to the 
conversation. In a nutshell, I believe that the choices you make in 
answering *this* question have a direct bearing on how you interpret the 
supposed purpose of the book, precluding certain interpretations and opening 
up others.


>Matthew wrote:
> >Severian states that he sent one copy of the manuscript to the library at
> >the citadel and will cast the second - the copy we are reading - into the
> >void.
> >
> >Wouldn't a conscious effort at propaganda require a rather more active
> >effort at publication and dissemination?  Without that I can't see
> >Severain having contemporary politic motives as being credible.  A 
> >for history - one that rulers often have - looks more plausible.
>Right.  I wasn't saying that I agreed with Clute's examination of The Book
>as a political document, I was just saying that he had published that more
>than 12 years ago.  FWIW.
>But yes, the fact there are only two copies works against The Book as
>propaganda and returns it to the scale of confession, apology, and/or
>private autobiography.
>The notes I gave about the wait for the New Sun also suggest The Book
>cannot be intended for the masses.  (Then again, perhaps it isn't =mass=
>propaganda that is implied?  What if it were just some kind of "elite"
>propaganda?  Hmmm.  So Father Inire . . . and Cybe and Racho . . . are the
>only ones whose opinions matter? )  To further that, I should remind us
>all of Severian's last line in TBOTNS:
>"To this account, I, Severian the Lame, Autarch, do set my hand in what
>shall be called the last year of the old sun."
>Thus he does not think it will take a year to bring the White Fountain; so
>where is the time for the text to get out to the people?
>OTOH, maybe we are looking at this propaganda angle from the wrong end (I
>should re-read the Clute, myself!).  It is perhaps not so much a pre-New
>Sun propaganda (with a "use before deluge" stamp) as a post-New Sun
>propaganda ("use only after deluge"): an explanation as to why so much
>destruction was required to bring the New Sun, to a presumed target
>audience of otherwise happy citizens of the New Sun Commonwealth (clearly
>Severian not realizing that the destruction would be near total, sweeping
>his civilization away completely).
>Which is pretty close to what you say about a ruler's concern for history,
>just a bit more immediate.

MSN 8 helps eliminate e-mail viruses. Get 2 months FREE*.  


<--prev V307 next-->