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From: "Fernando Q. Gouvea" <fqgouvea@colby.edu>
Subject: Re: (whorl) Patera Pike's Ghost
Date: Sat, 25 Jan 1997 12:08:54 

[Posted from Whorl, the mailing list for Gene Wolfe's Book of the Long Sun]

**** On Sat, 25 Jan 1997 10:42:09 -0600, Jim Jordan <jbjordan@gnt.net> said:

>> How do you suppose Horn sees things? Is he intentionally misleading the
>> reader by having Silk come to the wrong conclusions time and again?

Jim> 	I don't think so. The question has been raised whether Severian is
Jim> a trustworthy narrator. If we cannot trust Severian, then the whole
Jim> story falls apart, since there is no way to check on it. Thus, the
Jim> story is Severian's story, period, warts and all. In conversation
Jim> Wolfe rejected the notion that Severian is duplicitous.  Wolfe's game

Well, we need to be a little careful here. Severian certainly does report
himself saying things to people that do not agree with what he has told us
in his narrative. So he's unreliable at some point: either he hasn't told
the truth in the past, or in the narrative. And certainly there are things
in the narrative that he could have made explicit but which are only hinted

Jim> is to give you all the facts, so you can figure it out. If we cannot
Jim> trust the narration, the game is no good. The suggestion of a
Jim> duplicitous narrator destroys everything Wolfe is trying to do.  And I
Jim> think the same applies here. If Horn is misleading us, there is really
Jim> no way we can know it. But there really is no reason to think he is.

I agree here that there is no hint that Horn is *intentionally* misleading
us, though of course there's things in his "defence" that suggest that he
may have missed something (e.g., his comments on Auk).

Jim> We are to assume that Horn spend hours, perhaps days, talking with
Jim> Silk, and that he is accurately reporting what Silk told him. Wolfe as
Jim> a conservative Catholic assumes that Matthew and Mark are telling the
Jim> truth about Jesus, and the reader of the Long Sun Quartet should
Jim> assume Horn is telling the truth about Silk and the other characters.

Actually, the comparison with the gospels is interesting. Are we to think
of this as analogous to, say, the gospel of Luke (which presents itself as
based on investigation of the sources and eyewitnesses, and seems intended
as largely objective, though of course there's some interpretation
involved), or the gospel of John (which is written *long* after the fact,
and clearly has a large layer of interpretation superimposed on the story)?


Fernando Q. Gouvea			
Chair, Dept. of Math & CS		Editor, MAA Online
Colby College				http://www.maa.org
fqgouvea@colby.edu			fqgouvea@maa.org

Science is facts; just as houses are made of stones, so is science made
of facts; but a pile of stones is not a house and a collection of facts
is not necessarily science.
		-- Henri Poincaire

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