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From: Jim Jordan <jbjordan@gnt.net>
Subject: Re: (whorl) Re: Digest whorl.v007.n018
Date: Fri, 05 Sep 1997 20:20:07 

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

At 01:12 PM 9/4/97 -0400, you wrote:
>[Posted from WHORL, the mailing list for Gene Wolfe's Book of the Long Sun]
>At 09:54 AM 9/4/97 -0400, you wrote:
>>His "sadness" is probably like when you make a comment or a subtle joke
>and no 
>>one gets it.  It's a fine line, you want people to get your jokes, but the
>>subtle you can be and still have people get it, the more fun it is.  
>>And then some of the people you know start saying "Oh! She's being SUBTLE!" 
>>and proceed to find all these "hidden meanings" in everything you say.  

	Yes, it is a gestalt thing. Once you get the gestalt of a Wolfe story, you
can see how the details fit in. But if you don't "catch" the gestalt, the
details will often lead you into byways.

>This is more or less what I think was meant. Wolfe seemed a bit distressed
>at the people who think there are infinite layers of subtle meaning piled
>into his stories. 

	I tend to agree with all sides of this. Alga is right that Wolfe seems
disappointed when people don't pick up stuff that he has in the text, which
he thinks is "clearly" there (like that Weer is a ghost, for instance).
Yet, often it is clear only to him, because he put it there. I have not
found, for instance, the "obvious" fact that the family of clones in "Fifth
Head" is named Wolfe. (Maybe it's that Cerberus, though a dog, is like a
wolf?) I think Wolfe has a problem at this point, and this is virtually my
only negative criticism of his work: He packs so much into his writing that
the reader has a hard time telling what is significant and what is not.
Wolfe sometime scatters too many clues, I feel.
	Thus, people come up with the idea that Severian, for instance, is a
deceptive narrator, which, if true, renders the whole attempt to interpret
the books pretty meaningless. In other words, if the clues simply aren't
there at all, then we are left only with an interesting narrative and no
more. Which is why I don't buy this approach.
	I also think Wolfe is dismayed when people overinterpret his stuff -- but
he has asked for it! (Some of what I've seen here I'd put in that category.)
	Finally, I think Wolfe, like Tolkein before him, is a bit amazed at how
little Christianity is known and understood by SF and fantasy readers, so
that obvious references to God (such as the Outsider) are frequently
misread. So, he has to come on-line and tell us point-blank: the Outsider
is God! Fact is, though, you're not going to get Wolfe or Cordwainer Smith
right if you don't know the Bible and Dante and a few other things.
	At the same time, some people just aren't reading very carefully. The
analytical afterword in my Ace paperback edition of "Fifth Head" praises
Wolfe for not telling us whether V.R.T. is an alien shapeshifter or a human
being; in fact, it is clear he is an alien. (Ah, but why is he called V. I
get the R.T., but why the V.?)

>Incidentally, I think that Kathryn Locey's piece on "Seven American Nights"
>is brilliant and everyone should read it, but I am biased, since I
>published it. 

	I wish you distributed it better! I was in NYC last week and shopped
several places, including SF stores, and nobody had the NYRSF, and most had
never heard of it. Is is available anywhere? Are you going to get the
articles on line?
	Hey, does anybody know if a new issue of Crank has come out? I'd like to
finish the Blaylock novel....


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