gene wolfe's book of the NEWSUN!!!!! reading club

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i'm reading chapter one of shadow of the torturer starting now

the late great, Thursday, 17 May 2012 06:00 (twelve years ago) link

i could get behind this, if i can find it for kindle

pet tommy & the barkhaters (darraghmac), Thursday, 17 May 2012 08:20 (twelve years ago) link

i'm not ready to read them yet. this year though. definitely.

scott seward, Thursday, 17 May 2012 12:49 (twelve years ago) link

i'd do them over the summer, but i'm not sure i'll get past the first one

remy bean, Thursday, 17 May 2012 13:01 (twelve years ago) link

i mean the gimmick with them is that they are just a meandering, unreliable narrator a la casanova, right?

remy bean, Thursday, 17 May 2012 13:04 (twelve years ago) link

I can't find these, actually. I picked up a short story collection.

poxen, Thursday, 17 May 2012 13:12 (twelve years ago) link

remy - nope!

the late great, Thursday, 17 May 2012 15:22 (twelve years ago) link

read the first one, kinda stalled on the 2nd one now and taking a break to read a robert b parker novel.
i will be happy to discuss this with you cuz it is... intersting. i think i like it. but somehow i go stalled on the 2nd cuz i felt it was becoming too generic? idk.

one dis leads to another (ian), Thursday, 17 May 2012 15:26 (twelve years ago) link

I'm in for summer, either way

remy bean, Thursday, 17 May 2012 15:27 (twelve years ago) link

transient random-noise bursts. . . was in heavy rotation when i first read this and is now forever associated with it in my mind

mookieproof, Thursday, 17 May 2012 23:42 (twelve years ago) link

awesome books, I can't commit to a re-read but I'm looking forward to this thread

los blue jeans, Friday, 18 May 2012 00:01 (twelve years ago) link

i was going to read 'island of doctor death' and then go to this but island of dr death is triggering both the literary-prose and genre-fiction versions of my 'i just can't be bothered' button, and as such has been parked next to the toilet for something like a week

thomp, Friday, 18 May 2012 09:57 (twelve years ago) link

i just noticed this is on the noise board, i forget the noise board exists

thomp, Friday, 18 May 2012 09:57 (twelve years ago) link

pardon my cornell notes

"a thousand ages in they sight / are like an evening gone / short as the watch that ends the night / before the rising-sun" <- is this about god? is it about severian and his photographic memory, ruminating on mortality even though his life seems like a thousand ages to him? is it about the experience of reading this book? is it about the resurrection of the righteous? is it about the long decline of man before the destruction of earth?

it is a paraphrase of psalm 90, which in the king james version goes (SPOILER ALERT RE: URTH OF THE NEW SUN)

" For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night. Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up."

"resurrection and death" <- why inverted? especially when the first chapter skips the resurrection entirely and begins in the "and" section. is it normal to go swimming on foggy nights? damn, these kids must have had some crazy goosebumps.

why does severian imagine cutting

the late great, Friday, 18 May 2012 17:34 (twelve years ago) link

haha actually SPOILER ART RE: corridors of time!!!

the late great, Friday, 18 May 2012 17:35 (twelve years ago) link

er SPOILER ALERT

the late great, Friday, 18 May 2012 17:35 (twelve years ago) link

whoops that got "cut off" if you will

why does severian imagine cutting off vodalus' head? does he secretly hate vodalus? is he afraid of one day having to betray vodalus?

the late great, Friday, 18 May 2012 17:36 (twelve years ago) link

http://butdoesitfloat.com/This-was-the-first-time-that-he-had-ever-looked-into-the-labyrinth-of

^^ this is what i imagine nessus looking like

the late great, Saturday, 19 May 2012 21:45 (twelve years ago) link

wow awesome thread! i am almost done with the last book, so very timely for me. these books are amazing.

bene_gesserit, Saturday, 19 May 2012 23:50 (twelve years ago) link

I am gonna reread along with this thread.

mick signals, Sunday, 20 May 2012 00:54 (twelve years ago) link

actually i guess the resurrection might refer to the grave robbery

the late great, Sunday, 20 May 2012 00:58 (twelve years ago) link

book one just arrived to my kindle.

pet tommy & the barkhaters (darraghmac), Sunday, 20 May 2012 01:45 (twelve years ago) link

or his exile is the resurrection? but that doesn't make sense, resurrection's not like exile.

the late great, Sunday, 20 May 2012 04:55 (twelve years ago) link

xpost with the scifi fantasy thread - here's wayne barlowe's illustration of an alzabo. i pictured them looking far more canine for some reason, but i love this illustration.
http://lcart1.narod.ru/image/fantasy/wayne_barlowe/gtf/Wayne_Barlowe_Alzabo.jpg
i have a lot i want to talk about but you are all just getting started and i don't want to spoil anything! so i'll wait til you're done to join the discussion.

bene_gesserit, Sunday, 20 May 2012 22:49 (twelve years ago) link

lol i have read this twice and remember remarkably little of it

mookieproof, Sunday, 20 May 2012 22:53 (twelve years ago) link

That thing looks like a fanged rhino crossed with Dumb Donald.

Ian Hunter Is Learning the Game (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 21 May 2012 00:01 (eleven years ago) link

I always pictured a large hyena. Are those its eyes in its jowls?

mick signals, Monday, 21 May 2012 02:29 (eleven years ago) link

transient random-noise bursts. . . was in heavy rotation when i first read this and is now forever associated with it in my mind

― mookieproof, Thursday, May 17, 2012 7:42 PM (4 days ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

might do this and this

A Little Princess btw (s1ocki), Monday, 21 May 2012 15:06 (eleven years ago) link

picked this up again as i wanted to take a break from the country music bio i was reading. and

SPOILER

the part where they 34t th34cla and he somehow gets her memories is the kind of stuff i like about this series.

one dis leads to another (ian), Wednesday, 23 May 2012 00:16 (eleven years ago) link

finished chapters 2 and 3, not sure what to say about them quite yet ... thinking

the late great, Wednesday, 23 May 2012 15:52 (eleven years ago) link

findin this v hard to get into

pet tommy & the barkhaters (darraghmac), Wednesday, 23 May 2012 16:15 (eleven years ago) link

why?

the late great, Wednesday, 23 May 2012 17:14 (eleven years ago) link

keep fallin asleep after every paragraph, tbh. it's dense.

pet tommy & the barkhaters (darraghmac), Thursday, 24 May 2012 00:55 (eleven years ago) link

it is dense. i suggest reading aloud in a foppish voice.

the late great, Thursday, 24 May 2012 03:49 (eleven years ago) link

^^^ lol.

i find it a bit of a hard read too, because the action moves a lot slower than a lot of what i have been reading lately, and i also fall asleep reading it. but.. i am keeping on. it's a strangely episodic book and i think some of the episodes are more engaging than others tbh.

one dis leads to another (ian), Thursday, 24 May 2012 15:29 (eleven years ago) link

If you can find the audio version, read by Roy Avers for the National Library Service for the Blind, it's a nice version.

Spent the last 5 minutes looking for an old photo I remember, of Roy Avers in his big glasses, but can't find it.

mick signals, Thursday, 24 May 2012 16:50 (eleven years ago) link

read that as Roy Ayers and got excited.

scott seward, Thursday, 24 May 2012 23:57 (eleven years ago) link

you should read this book and get excited

the late great, Thursday, 24 May 2012 23:58 (eleven years ago) link

i'm gonna. but not now. i have all three in hardcover.

scott seward, Friday, 25 May 2012 00:18 (eleven years ago) link

i am on chapter 3 now

remy bean, Friday, 25 May 2012 01:01 (eleven years ago) link

Everybody Loves the New Sunshine

mick signals, Friday, 25 May 2012 01:22 (eleven years ago) link

lolllllll

puff puff post (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Friday, 25 May 2012 01:39 (eleven years ago) link

the one thing I completely remember skipping when I read this a long time ago was that lengthy play at the end

puff puff post (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Friday, 25 May 2012 01:39 (eleven years ago) link

ah you missed the whole point of the series then

the late great, Friday, 25 May 2012 06:03 (eleven years ago) link

i'm glad i'm learning more about jonas.
it seemed like between the end of book 1 and the beginning of book 2 he became severian's best buddy without much explanation. i guess there is a lot that goes unexplained in these books tho.

one dis leads to another (ian), Friday, 25 May 2012 15:32 (eleven years ago) link

there is a gap of a few weeks or even a couple months between shadow and claw i think

the late great, Friday, 25 May 2012 15:39 (eleven years ago) link

i do think severian does explain why he likes jonas so much

the late great, Friday, 25 May 2012 15:41 (eleven years ago) link

guys i am reading gene wolfe's wiki and:

After returning to the United States he earned a degree from the University of Houston and became an industrial engineer. He edited the journal Plant Engineering for many years before retiring to write full-time, but his most famous professional engineering achievement is a contribution to the machine used to make Pringles potato chips.[5]

HOLY SHIT!!

bene_gesserit, Monday, 28 May 2012 04:28 (eleven years ago) link

might kill a can of pringles today in his honor

difficult listening hour, Monday, 15 April 2019 17:37 (five years ago) link

two immense Catholic pinnacles felled in one day

mick signals, Monday, 15 April 2019 22:25 (five years ago) link

it was a bummer. ok, he was 87, but i still wanted to talk about it, and apparently nobody i work with has ever heard of the book of the new sun

i should sometime reread the book of the new sun, i liked it but whenever i read this thread it becomes apparent to me that i have no idea about anything that happens in that book. i thought it was, just, people dueling with leaves and maoists telling stories.

at least i finished it though!

Jaki Liebowitz (rushomancy), Monday, 15 April 2019 23:34 (five years ago) link

well those things do happen

the late great, Monday, 15 April 2019 23:37 (five years ago) link

Urth of the New Sun is kinda blowing my mind right now, I have no idea what's gonna happen next (1/3 of the way through)

Emperor Tonetta Ketchup (sleeve), Thursday, 25 April 2019 22:09 (five years ago) link

three weeks pass...

did you finish it yet, sleeve?

the late great, Sunday, 19 May 2019 17:36 (five years ago) link

yes! I'm still a bit confused about what exactly happened at the end, I'll probably re-read it in 6 months or so.

some of the parts in "Urth" where all the puzzle pieces of the time travel fit together were really cool, like the Witch's Tower getting damaged and the origin of the Claw (which seems to be entirely self-referential?)

Emperor Tonetta Ketchup (sleeve), Monday, 20 May 2019 13:54 (five years ago) link

yeah the claw is an ouroboros

by the end you mean the *very* last scene? yeah i was always unsure about the significance of that too, except that perhaps it closes the loop (the first novel begins in a graveyard)

the late great, Monday, 20 May 2019 16:58 (five years ago) link

well that scene yeah, with the "gods" that were the 4 survivors on the raft, but also the whole stone town thing (last few chapters? with Apu-Punchau), I think some of it will become clearer when I re-read but iirc the stone town stuff was all in book one and my memory is already hazy on that.

Emperor Tonetta Ketchup (sleeve), Monday, 20 May 2019 17:08 (five years ago) link

The last time I did a re-read a couple of months ago I tried re-reading the stone town chapters in Urth of the New Sun and Book of the New Sun back to back just to get a better idea of what exactly is happening but I'm still not sure I completely get it.

As far as I can tell the real Severian died on the ship and the hierodules come to the stone town to help save a copy of Severian (an aquastor I think?) and another dead copy of Severian is left behind for the ritual with Hildegrin who will be destroyed by coming into contact with the real Severian from the end of Claw of the Conciliator. I'm going by memory here though, it was somewhat clearer when I read it. I'm still unclear on what purpose that ritual served.

silverfish, Tuesday, 21 May 2019 15:57 (four years ago) link

stumbled upon this, i wish i were rich

https://www.foliosociety.com/usa/the-book-of-the-new-sun.html

diamonddave85​​ (diamonddave85), Friday, 31 May 2019 13:14 (four years ago) link

two years pass...

Just finished reading all of these and enjoyed the short sun a lot more than I expected; new sun probably still best but no regrets about reading the whole thing.

toby, Thursday, 5 August 2021 15:20 (two years ago) link

i don't listen to podcasts, but this one might be intersting

Such an honor being asked to discuss Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun for the Great Books Podcast! https://t.co/J7rjGaHPGl

— Ada Palmer 💉🎉 (@Ada_Palmer) August 5, 2021

mookieproof, Thursday, 5 August 2021 17:16 (two years ago) link

that podcast was good. I know mostly nothing about Ada Palmer but it was nice to get a historian's perspective on New Sun. Liked the line "There is nothing more similar to the future than the past".

silverfish, Thursday, 19 August 2021 15:28 (two years ago) link

Also I'm listening to the Alzabo Soup podcast mentioning above and following along reading Book of the Long Sun which they are currently doing and am slowing coming to think (as the hosts of the podcast do) that Long Sun is actually even better than New Sun.

silverfish, Thursday, 19 August 2021 15:31 (two years ago) link

Wow that’s saying a mouthful!

covidsbundlertanze op. 6 (Jon not Jon), Thursday, 19 August 2021 15:59 (two years ago) link

five months pass...

I just finished The Book of the New Sun and read this thread.

I really liked it overall with a few reservations. The worldbuilding is incredible. My favorite parts were most of Shadow (especially the beginning), the scenes at the House Absolute in Claw, after Severian leaves Thrax in Sword (especially the scenes with little Severian), and the last 100 pages of Citadel. I really felt the first half of Citadel dragged. I could also do without some of the pancreator stuff, but at least it sort of answers the question, "What if HP Lovecraft were CS Lewis?"

I love the feeling like Greek or Sumerian myths of a disorientingly weird cause and effect (or lack thereof) where characters act like natural phenomenon instead of people. On the other hand, Severian is the only character with much depth.

One of the freakiest parts is in the Antechamber in the House Absolute and the reference that it has a drop ceiling. Just another way in which time is layered like geologic stratum that have been revealed and now coexist.

So basically the last thing that happens chronologically is the brief reference to Severian riding in a spacehip to be judged on behalf of humanity?

removing bookmarks never felt so good (PBKR), Sunday, 6 February 2022 16:50 (two years ago) link

iirc yes, which is fleshed out a lot in the 5th book

I need to re-read these

bad milk blood robot (sleeve), Sunday, 6 February 2022 17:04 (two years ago) link

I think I'm going to order that 5th book.

removing bookmarks never felt so good (PBKR), Sunday, 6 February 2022 17:33 (two years ago) link

it rules

i never got around to the long sun books tho i have them on my shelf

adam, Monday, 7 February 2022 00:20 (two years ago) link

two weeks pass...

i'm gonna try long sun again.

ian, Wednesday, 23 February 2022 01:58 (two years ago) link

I'm about halfway through Urth of the New Sun - it's fine, but I'm not nearly as into it as I was the other books. That could be due to tiring of them as I've progressed, but I also think some of it is more clumsy (repeated callbacks) and less mysterious than the first four.

removing bookmarks never felt so good (PBKR), Wednesday, 23 February 2022 02:26 (two years ago) link

one year passes...

i'm gonna try long sun again.

― ian, Wednesday, February 23, 2022 1:58 AM (one year ago) bookmarkflaglink

Long Sun was FANTASTIC. Stylistically super different from New Sun but it really really worked for me. Amazing characters. General Mint is the best. Blood. Horn. Auk. Of course our boy Silk. Loved it.

I read the first two books of Short Sun and liked them but felt like I was missing a LOT of stuff that was happening between the lines. I got distracted from the third book, Return To The Whorl, for some reason or another but I'd really like to give those first two another read & then try Whorl again.

ian, Thursday, 16 March 2023 22:41 (one year ago) link

four months pass...

just to follow up on the “novel of everything” idea that i had brought up on the ulysses thread … i love novels in that style because there are so many details to figure out about the pov the narrator inhabits

i think i finally figured out the second reason thecla’s group (chatelaines? i forget what the equivalent rank was) has long necks … i always figured it was to look down on people, but maybe it’s also to make it easier to fit on the chopping block!

the late great, Tuesday, 1 August 2023 22:40 (nine months ago) link

one month passes...

LONG SUN.

ian, Friday, 15 September 2023 02:27 (eight months ago) link

Is it good? I read the original run and then Urth all in a row and was kind of burned out on his quasi-religious stuff by the end.

il lavoro mi rovina la giornata (PBKR), Friday, 15 September 2023 12:16 (eight months ago) link

Long Sun is really good, possibly better than new sun? (I don't know, I just finished a re-read a couple of months ago and it seemed that way, probably next time I read new sun I'll go back to thinking that one is better)

There's religious stuff in this one too, but it's in a different style than in new sun, more like Greek mythology.

silverfish, Friday, 15 September 2023 12:58 (eight months ago) link

Anyway, as I was doing this re-read of Long Sun I was listening along to the Alzabo Soup podcast and the thing kind of blew my mind that I got from that podcast that I hadn't put together was (spoilers for Long Sun, but also a bit for New Sun):

Typhon sent out hundreds (thousands?) of these generational ships, each carrying an embryo for a clone of Typhon (Silk). Obviously in this particular case, it seems like things didn't go as planned (probably in part because of interference from the Inhumi), but in most cases, this would have set up a colony somewhere with a Typhon clone as leader. This is probably the original sin for which the hierodules felt the need to intervene and which ultimately caused the downfall of humanity

silverfish, Friday, 15 September 2023 13:16 (eight months ago) link

oh wild, i had never considered that.

Long Sun is in many ways much easier to read than New Sun. The language is straightforward, it's got jokes and a talking bird. And General Mint!!!!!

ian, Tuesday, 19 September 2023 22:42 (eight months ago) link

Short Sun, for me, has proven to be harder to wrap my head around than New Sun was, even at first.

ian, Tuesday, 19 September 2023 22:43 (eight months ago) link

three months pass...

Hi

https://fifthhead.substack.com/p/fifth-head

ian, Saturday, 6 January 2024 16:06 (four months ago) link

nice

out-of-print LaserDisc edition (sleeve), Saturday, 6 January 2024 16:07 (four months ago) link

it was a bummer. ok, he was 87, but i still wanted to talk about it, and apparently nobody i work with has ever heard of the book of the new sun

i should sometime reread the book of the new sun, i liked it but whenever i read this thread it becomes apparent to me that i have no idea about anything that happens in that book. i thought it was, just, people dueling with leaves and maoists telling stories.

at least i finished it though!

― Jaki Liebowitz (rushomancy), Monday, April 15, 2019 4:34 PM (four years ago)

lolll, aaaaand then the next month my egg cracked

so i did reread the first book for a book club with a friend a couple of years back and it immediately became obvious how deeply and profoundly misogynist wolfe's writing is. god damn, wolfe holds every one of his female characters in contempt in specifically gendered ways.

so that was a bit of a bummer

Kate (rushomancy), Saturday, 6 January 2024 22:37 (four months ago) link

I'd urge you to remember that New Sun is being written/narrated by an insane torturer, who often obscures his own shitty actions (i.e. rape of Jolenta) and has no real understanding of women, raised solely among men and boys. THAT SAID, I do think there is criticism warranted PRIMARILY because part of Newsun hinges on the Thecla/Severian duality, and in that respect, Narrator Severian, being both man & woman, should probably possess more insight into women than he does.

I'd be curious to know what in the text makes you think Wolfe hates women, rather than Severian. He has very conservative views (Catholic innit) for sure, so I'm not trying to be dismissive at all. I'm just curious. In Book Of The Long Sun, several of the strongest and most powerful characters, and are not written in the one-dimensional way that they are sometimes written in New Sun.

ian, Saturday, 6 January 2024 23:41 (four months ago) link

should read "several of the strongest .... characters are women"

ian, Saturday, 6 January 2024 23:43 (four months ago) link

I'd urge you to remember that New Sun is being written/narrated by an insane torturer, who often obscures his own shitty actions (i.e. rape of Jolenta) and has no real understanding of women, raised solely among men and boys. THAT SAID, I do think there is criticism warranted PRIMARILY because part of Newsun hinges on the Thecla/Severian duality, and in that respect, Narrator Severian, being both man & woman, should probably possess more insight into women than he does.

kinda funny thinking of it that way. there's not really any way in which i'm a "man" but i guess i've had experiences with gender that a lot of people (wolfe certainly included) haven't.

I'd be curious to know what in the text makes you think Wolfe hates women, rather than Severian. He has very conservative views (Catholic innit) for sure, so I'm not trying to be dismissive at all. I'm just curious. In Book Of The Long Sun, several of the strongest and most powerful characters, and are not written in the one-dimensional way that they are sometimes written in New Sun.

- ian, Saturday, January 6, 2024 3:41 PM (two hours ago)

it's been a while so i can't say precisely, and i don't want to make it sound like a rhetorical argument... like you say, wolfe was a catholic. not just a catholic, but the particular strand of catholic with which one should _not_ get into a rhetorical argument, lol.

mainly it's character voice. it's one of the most challenging things about writing... i've noticed a tendency when writing to fill in the lacunae in character experience and voice with my own experiences. this quality was, if anything, even more pronounced in my writing pre-transition, when i had a false universalist conception of human nature.

that is the interesting thing to me... not the question of wolfe's misogyny, but my complete failure to notice it pre-transition. i don't think of myself as ever having been a man, and i don't think it's hormonal. if anything i'd say it's lived experience. looking at things from multiple perspectives. wolfe was extremely intellectually gifted but it is fundamentally an intellectual framing. that i look at things differently now isn't a matter of intellectual growth, just lived experience.

what i remember is the way severian, as narrator, describes women's bodies... from the way severian describes his own life, his own experience, the way he describes and treats women seems like something of a non sequitur. they're ways in which women are treated in _our_ world, under conditions that don't seem to apply in severian's... in particular, i had the impression that severian finds women's bodies to be in some way indicative of their _character_, particularly in a moral sense. i don't remember reading anything in his descriptions of his world that would justify that approach. it's a very catholic way of looking at things. very catholic in a specifically highly patriarchal way. there's very much a sort of "male gaze" to how severian looks at things - again, in my memory. he observes and judges the bodies of the women in a way he doesn't with the bodies of the men.

i think this is something of a failure of thomist and post-thomist intellectual catholicism in general... there's a sort of misrecognition of the ways we're shaped by somatic experience.

if i can get really personal here... one of the most profound experiences i had relating to catholicism was subsequent to my genital reconstruction surgery. without wishing to get too into detail, it is a complex surgery and one does wind up bleeding for quite a long time. to someone from the outside, to me before i had the experience, i didn't understand what the true impact of it would be. one can't until one experiences it. there's something sort of very mystical and spiritual about that, in a way that's aligned with scholasticism, i feel. the thing is that the anatomical and physiological changes are, comparatively speaking, nothing. anatomy textbooks will tell you that there's just not that much difference between male genitals and female genitals, and my lived experience bears this out.

the difference is in having this new perspective, a new way of understanding oneself. after a few days i was able to step into the shower and wash myself. it's out of necessity a gentle, tender experience. i'm not a parent, but i had a very strong sense of treating this new creation as i would a newborn child, with the love i would show to my own newborn child. it seemed profoundly maternal.

i washed myself, and i saw and felt the blood... being raised catholic, i was taught there was something beautiful in blood, and i felt that strongly at that time. i recall seeing and feeling myself and saying "this is my body, this is my blood". and it felt as if it was true for the first time in my life. that for the first time in my life i truly understood myself that my body was _my_ body.

and from a catholic perspective, well, others might dispute it but the catholicism i was raised in, i know full well that it was blasphemous of me to say that. not because i am comparing myself to christ or saying that my body is christ's body. it's not. it's more that under catholicism, under patriarchy, people - all people, but especially _women_ - don't have the right to their own bodies. our bodies are not our own. we are part of the body of christ. we eat of christ's body and drink of christ's blood, and that is the mystery and the sanctity of communion. the abomination. the cruelty. the dominion, of what they call "communion". my body is my body. not christ's. not any man's body. mine.

which i think puts me fundamentally at odds with wolfe's worldview and perspective, and the way he sees women in particular.

anyway. i hope that makes some sort of sense! kind of hard to put into words.

Kate (rushomancy), Sunday, 7 January 2024 03:06 (four months ago) link

Makes tons of sense and I agree with a lot of it. In fevers I think you’re right - Severian writes about women as caricatures because he’s definitely a misogynist. That’s severian the fictional author of this fictional book of the new sun.

When I first read it, I thought along similar lines. “Why are all these women falling in with him all the time?” Oh yes, he’s the narrator, of course he’s going to tell it that way. I think the late great addresses this up thread perhaps too… it’s helpful to keep in your mind that the fictional guy writing that book is, yes, a misogynist by all modern standards, but also insane, and a liar (sometimes from his insanity I think and sometimes willfully, and he often omits.) Severian also loves to stroke his own ego. This is also a world in which the masters in the bear tower practice monogamous bestiality, so their whole worldview is kinda ducked by all of our modern standards.

None of this to discount your lived experience, but that one of the … things… for me when reading new sun is to Always keep in mind that Severian is a creation of Wolfe, and one whose moral worldview is intentionally fucked up, because it’s the product of an alien and fucked up place.

Sorry. I’m typing in my phone…

. If you have not read the whole series, it may also help to know the whole story, narration especially, becomes radically recontextualized by the climax of the fourth book.

ian, Sunday, 7 January 2024 06:00 (four months ago) link

Like… Severian sucks he’s not cool or fun. Sm

ian, Sunday, 7 January 2024 06:02 (four months ago) link

oh yeah for sure i don't look at him and be like WOW THIS GUY HAS A BADASS SWORD AND A CLOAK THAT'S, LIKE, BLACK, BUT IT'S EVEN MORE BLACK THAN BLACK, LIKE HE COULD PROBABLY ROUNDHOUSE KICK CHUCK NORRIS IN THE FACE haha

i do wanna push back on the "he's insane" though, i've dealt for most of my live with severe mental illness and i've found that it often is essentialized. it's like the whole "depression quest" thing where sometimes the right choices literally aren't open to us because of where we've been. it doesn't offer any kind of excuse or justification, though, and i think sometimes there's a tendency to do that. i don't see it as "he's lying because he's crazy". i don't see it as _lying_ at all, like, what he's saying doesn't accord with the facts but like you say there's a difference between saying something he genuinely believes and saying something he _knows_ to be false

either way he's responsible for his words and actions and their consequences. like if i'm gonna look at it from jolenta's perspective it doesn't really matter if severian _knows_ what he's doing

to me basically it's... particularly since i take a trauma-focused approach to mental illness, i look at the circumstances and environment severian comes from and, like, my critical approach is to try and see how those experiences have shaped his character

part of the gender essentialization here, i think, part of the misogyny, is that _wolfe_, not the character, mistakes toxic masculinity for manhood itself. being raised among men, being raised without real access to womanhood and women's experiences... that shaped me. it absolutely did. i don't see being a man in the company of men as something twisted and hateful, though. i guess it can be. i guess it depends on your point of view. again there's a lot of subtext i'm missing. is there a lot of pederasty in the torturer's guild? that sort of trauma would explain severian's perspective. because it's learned, it's a learned perspective, learned behavior

Kate (rushomancy), Sunday, 7 January 2024 10:16 (four months ago) link

I think you should just read Long Sun, lol - completely different writing style and character work, it's interesting (and the main character is effectively raised by women)

out-of-print LaserDisc edition (sleeve), Sunday, 7 January 2024 16:13 (four months ago) link

In one of the early chapters, Severian tells you straight up that he is insane and the jumble of memories in his brain are impenetrable even to him, he admits that he may not be lying intentionally, but i still think he often does. So i'm not trying to take mental illness lightly -- but it's something he acknowledges. He also contradicts himself in the text occasionally, usually in the manner of "I remember everything!" "oh, i don't remember what happened next..."

re: pederasty - there are allusions to this happening though iirc nothing super concrete. i'll look out for it during this re-read. here's a reddit thread on the topic - https://www.reddit.com/r/genewolfe/comments/bzerhz/severian_the_pederast_does_wolfe_not_situate/

Even w/o pederasty in the guild it's an incredibly fucked up environment. He never saw a woman until he was god knows how old (whenever he was old enough to go to the witch's tower i suppose) -- he has very little idea how to interact with the outside world at all and women in particular imo. Being raised in an environment where violence is cold and common and, in fact, your duty, is also very traumatic probably.

ian, Sunday, 7 January 2024 16:26 (four months ago) link

re: sanity,

"I realized for the first time that I am in some degree insane … I had lied often … Now I could not be sure my own mind was not lying to me; all my falsehoods were recoiling on me and I who remembered everything could not be certain those memories were more than my own dreams.”

^ very end of chapter 3

ian, Sunday, 7 January 2024 16:36 (four months ago) link

four weeks pass...

damn that’s an airtight argument

incredible given that even ursula leguin was tricked by this snake

she called him “the melville of our time” by which i am
sure she meant damn this dude seems weirdly sympathetic to this killer whale and this killer whale killer prep the cancel culture harpoon

the late great, Sunday, 4 February 2024 09:52 (three months ago) link

:shrug:

Kate (rushomancy), Sunday, 4 February 2024 14:58 (three months ago) link

i’m not trying to be insulting. i’m just saying i agree that a person who is a literal torturer, trained to inflict pain — and more crucially to reject compassion, since he is told to think of the pleas and bargaining and begging of those under torture as like the squeaks of animals that signify nothing but pain — is going to remind us of people that treat us poorly

also he lives in a world where growth is stilled because the sun is corrupt and every mountain has been carved into the likeness of a murderous male autocrat obsessed with power, and this is normalized to the point where people call them mountains and not “the mountain that looks like the old autarch so and so” and the reader has to figure it out

i’m with you, it sounds like a shitty place to be and for that reason i try not to imagine myself as actually in the story or those ppl actually in my world.

but that’s a general reading tactic of mine anyway

the late great, Sunday, 4 February 2024 20:59 (three months ago) link

if people want to get mad at a book about a decadent lunatic with a huge sword who destroys the world, that’s fine! the author wants that

and when you figure out what kind of “hero” he is you’ve (and remember it’s a bildungsroman so the story only ends when the narrator is no longer himself … and he has photographic memory and relives his experiences like an alzabo, so has no agency to retell his dark past as a better person) unlocked the theme of the book

so anyway yeah stories about these cursed sword dark
edgelord heroes are not for everyone, and its a bit embarassing how many postcolonial voices or whatever stan for him. maybe you’d like elric novels better, simpler guilty pleasure and also good reading

the late great, Sunday, 4 February 2024 21:08 (three months ago) link

finally if you wonder why i might read like that … it’s so i can compare books like sundiver vs xenogenesis or foundation vs triton on merit of ideas first, since it is sci fi … and i don’t look to art for practical guidance, i have enough immediate accountability in my life (since i get publicly evaluated, by govt name, by children with microphones, in front of mayors and state assembly leaders for years and years now) … like just personally have enough to worry about without muddying the issue

that’s all i’m going to say on it and afaict that’s definite so i’m done for awhile. this is the only corner of this board i feel useful on anyway, and not at all on an affective or social emotional level, just a sliver of personal knowledge i’ve earned at ruinous cost to myself

the late great, Sunday, 4 February 2024 21:18 (three months ago) link

definitive* not definite … and only fair since i kicked off this whole mess

the late great, Sunday, 4 February 2024 21:19 (three months ago) link

do you think it's a mess? this is a book you love and you understand and here comes this weirdo who, like, openly admits to not understanding the book and interprets it through her own biased lens. idk, i know that's a flaw of mine, i come off as more authoritative and sure of myself than i actually am. to be honest i don't read a lot of fantasy novels at all - it's not a genre i'm familiar with. so it's not surprising that i'm maybe a bit ignorant of what's going on in this particular book! the next fantasy author on my to-read list is tamsyn muir and not moorcock. i heard tamsyn muir's books have more lesbians.

i mean, what can i do here, retract my opinions? does it even make sense for a person to retract their _opinions_?

Kate (rushomancy), Sunday, 4 February 2024 22:18 (three months ago) link


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