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From: Jerry Friedman <jerry_friedman@yahoo.com>
Subject: RE: (whorl) Fallible Narrators and Even More Fallible Copyists: a Textual Con sideration of the "Book of Silk"
Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 16:16:06 

--- Dan'l Danehy-Oakes <ddanehy@siebel.com> wrote:
> Jerry Friedman wrote:
> > Part of the reason for my lack of interest in the
> > reliability of Wolfe's narrators is that this goes
> > back a hundred years, to Henry James (at least). 
> I
> > don't see much difference, for example, between
> the
> > editorial comments in TBotsS and those in _Ada_.  
> I must disagree on theoretical grounds. The
> discourse of
> SF uses rhetorical devices -- and the tactics of the
> unreliable narrator, the "editorial" comment, and 
> metafictional devices generally _are_ rhetorical
> devices,
> that is, tools in the rhetorical toolchest of the
> writer 
> (at least, the writer of narrative) -- in a
> fundamentally
> different way than does the discourse of MF*.

I should probably mention that _Ada_ is alternate-
history sf, with a little stefnal fun about the
technology of "Anti-Terra".  (Pace Nabokov and some
Nabokophiles who would undoubtedly say, undoubtedly
have said, that _Ada_ is a parody of sf, far superior
to [what they think is] the naive and limited genre it
parodies, and does something quite different with sf
elements from what [they think] the genre does.)

> ------------------------
> * MF: A term I've been using for some years, though
> I
>   haven't had much call for it on this group. Just
> as
>   the S in SF may refer to "Science" or
> "Speculative"
>   [or "San" if you live in Northern California], so
>   the M in MF refers ambiguously/ambivalently to 
>   "mimetic" and "mundane," the latter _not_ intended
>   as a faanish put-down term but as a descriptive
> term
>   for "stuff that is about the 'real' world."
> ------------------------

Or "mainstream"?

[snip stuff that I may ponder more on SF and MF]
> > And speaking of Nabokov, I don't see anything
> metafictional in
> > any of the __ Sun books that compares to _Pale
> Fire_, 
> I'm afraid I found it turgid. But I was a lot
> younger then; perhaps
> I should give it another try.

Perhaps, but I'm not making any guarantees.  For those
who haven't read it, I think people who like Wolfe, 
especially his, uh, metafictional destabilizations,
more likely to like _Pale Fire_ than is the general
literate population.  I think it's great.
> > Cf., by the way, not only "The Last Thrilling
> Wonder Story" 
> > but also _The Lord of the Rings_, in which the
> fictional
> > Tolkien explains some features of his translation.
> D'oh! And me a Tolkienologist. Well... to tell the
> truth, though,
> I think Tolkien's intent is exactly opposed to
> Wolfe's; Wolfe,
> as you note, casts doubt on his "translation" simply
> by _making_
> it a translation; Tolkien seeks to grant his
> subcreation a greater
> sense of historicity and "reality" by an apparently
> similar (but
> functionally quite different) tactic.

"Cf." abbreviates the Latin for "compare and
contrast". :-)  I agree with you about Tolkien, but
I'm not sure
I agree about Wolfe.  Maybe he was locating _TBotNS_
(et seqq.) in an sf tradition that I don't think began
with Tolkien, and providing a socket into which we
could plug the bit about sealing the manuscript in a
coffer and casting it adrift on the seas of space and
time.  I was just pointing out that if you like
casting doubt on Wolfean narratives, this is another

> > Why is there a k in "Duko"?
> Because "Duo" would sound dumb?

*hands on hips* You know perfectly well what I meant.
If those four cities have Italian as their high
tongue, why a k and not a c?

Jerry Friedman

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