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From: "Tony Ellis" <tellis@futurenet.co.uk>
Subject: (urth) Re: Dr. Talos' Play
Date: 19 Nov 1997 10:22:57 +0100

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

 RE>Dr. Talos' Play

Christopher R. Culver wrote:

>Has there ever been a serious study of the myriad themes and elaborate
>symbolism in the play of Dr. Talos in _Claw of the Conciliator_?

No, so let's start one!

>I've read it
>several times over, yet still cannot understand the symbolic qualities =
>certain roles.

I'm not sure that we're supposed to look for any deep symbolism in the
characters of the play. This is a story about the end of one world and =
beginning of a new one, and in that sense the play as a whole 
"symbolises" Severian's story - as the opening lines of the chapter say,
it is based on the lost "Book of the New Sun". Interestingly,
we don't actually get to the incidents dramatised in the play until
"The Urth of the New Sun".

As we might expect from a play called "Eschatology and Genesis", this
is also a re-telling of the Genesis story. The Biblical Genesis story is
itself a re-telling of earlier Sumerian genesis stories, as I'm sure =
knows. There is even a throwaway reference to a Greek genesis myth:
in Greek mythology the survivors of the flood are told to repopulate the
world by throwing stones (the bones of Mother Earth) over their =
and in the play we have:

MESCHIANE: It might come to life. I heard something once about
raising sons from stones.

The names Meschia and Meschiane... I have an idea that these are the
names of Adam and Eve in another (Hebrew?) genesis myth. Any ideas?

A lot of stories didn't make it into the collection of texts we know as =
Bible, but have just the same provenance. These can be found in the 
Apocrypha, and one of them is the story of Lilith - Adam's first, =
wife, today a byword for a demonic seductress. In the play, this is =

Nod, the giant, is one of the Nephilim. Go back to the Biblical Genesis
story and you'll find the Nephilim described as the offspring of angels
and the "Sons of God" - one of those little details which reminds us that
this story originated as Sumerian creation myth. Who were the Sons of
God? Nobody knows for sure, but they obviously have no place in the 
conventional Christian universe.

I have plenty more to say, but no more time... I look forward to everyone
else's input!

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