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From: "Tony Ellis" <tellis@futurenet.co.uk>
Subject: (urth) Cerberus (was "The Quiet Ur
Date: 31 Oct 1997 12:01:01 +0100

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

 Cerberus (was "The Quiet Urth")

Nutria wrote:
>>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.

>Well, since cerberus is the guardian of hell, I'd say that you cannot
>completely exclude the religious motif. 
>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.

Hmmm... I have to nitpick here: I would say Danteaen only. Yes,
Dante makes Cerberus the guardian of Christian Hell, but he was
borrowing from Classical (ie Pagan) mythology. Nor was Dante's
Hell a place of "evil" in the conventional sense, but rather a place
of human suffering. I still don't see any Biblical\Christian imagery
in Fifth Head.

>And I think "saltimbanque" means

Interesting! Can anybody confirm that Saltimbanque =3D counterfeit
for us?

>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.

All true, but I'm still not convinced that Wolfe wants us to make
such associations with this particular collection of novellas. If the
whore-house in Fifth Head was supposed to be a false church I
would expect the rest of the story to reflect this, but as far as I
can see it doesn't.

The strongest parallels I can see are with Australian aboriginal culture,
and more specifically with its destruction at the hands of white

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