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From: John Bishop <jbishop@ch.hp.com>
Subject: (urth) Re: gory Hell
Date: Mon, 3 Nov 1997 10:11:01 

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

  Others besides Wolfe have pointed out that medieval
  and early modern daily experience was violent and gory;
  no one in 1100 would find the idea of Satan grilling
  sinners over a fire a step too far from local practice.
  The stretch was that it didn't end!  The _Economist_
  magazine had an article which pointed out that murder
  rates in 13th century England were ten times that of
  today's Detroit.

  Unless we remember this, we'll lose some of the meaning
  and connotations of old stories.  As a parallel idea,
  for us textiles are cheap because machine-made.  In the
  past, every yard of cloth represented a vast investment
  of hand labor (even if it was cheap labor), and clothes
  were _expensive_.  When you read stories from the past,
  think of clothes in general and shoes in particular as
  being like cars--necessary and costly, to be maintained
  and conserved, and an item of public display and status

  So when Princess A. gives servant B. her cast-off dress,
  that's not demeaning and cheap--it's a big gift, and
  shows great favor.


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