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From: Jim Jordan <jbjordan@gnt.net>
Subject: Re: (urth) Re: The Quiet Urth
Date: Thu, 30 Oct 1997 01:35:09 

[Posted from URTH, a mailing list about Gene Wolfe's New Sun and other works]

>>  It seems, for some reason,
>>that Christian symbolism is a good place to start off.
>Why? No offence intended to anyone, but I think that there is
>sometimes far too much Christian symbol-spotting in discussions
>of Wolfe's work. Sometimes a character is just character, and not
>a Christ figure, or Mother Church, or St Paul the Apostle's 
>Personal Shopper or whatever. Yes, Wolfe is a Catholic, but he is
>also a polymath, and a terrible punster, and I find plenty of double
>meanings and conceits in his stories that have nothing to do
>with Christian themes.

	Agreed. Plenty of stories don't have any particular Catholic or Christian
themes, and those that do have them mixed with others.

>>Of course, there's the obvious Satan imagery--666 Maltimbaque (?) St.
>Ok, let's use this as an example of what I mean. You say Satan
>imagery, I say pun. 666 is "the number of the Beast", rather than
>specifically the number of Satan, and 666 Saltimbanque St is the
>House of the Beast: the "Maison du Chien", or House of the Dog.
>The protagonist's extended family is also a kind of Beast, 
>the five-headed Cerberus of the title.
>That's my theory, anyway. What does everybody else say?

	Well, since cerberus is the guardian of hell, I'd say that you cannot
completely exclude the religious motif. And I think "saltimbanque" means
"counterfeit." True versus false humanity is really the theme, I think, of
the three novellas, but Wolfe does associate false humanity with hell,
anti-christ, a false immortality, sterility, cruelty, etc. Also, a
whore-house is a traditional image of the counterfeit or false church. To
be sure, all of this is by reflex; Wolfe does not positively portray
anything Christian that I know of in this book, but his pictures of evil
seem largely to be Biblical and Danteaen.

	For what it's worth.

>*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://moonmilk.volcano.org/urth/

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