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From: Michael Straight <straight@email.unc.edu>
Subject: Re: (urth) Cerberus (was "The Quiet Ur
Date: Fri, 31 Oct 1997 09:14:56 

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

On 31 Oct 1997, Tony Ellis wrote:

> Nutria wrote:
> >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. 

Just to nitpick your nitpick, in Biblical thought (contrary to Milton and
others), as in Dante, Hell is not the headquarters of "evil" but a place
of suffering.  Satan is not pictured as the ruler of Hell but its most
famous prisoner.
And since this message has no Wolfe content anyway, I'll continue with the
observation, after reading Cordwainer Smith's "A Planet Named Shayol," 
that where at one time people wrote gory descriptions of Hell with the
purpose of putting a genuine fear of God into people, several modern
science fiction writers have written gory stories about Hell with the
(seemingly intended) effect of making the reader say, "surely this cannot

ObWolfe: I put off reading "Peace" because it sounded less interesting
than Wolfe's other stuff, but I really enjoyed it, found the ending quite
satisfying, and am finding that it's staying with me as much or more than
any of his other books.


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