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From: m.driussi@genie.com
Subject: (urth) Play Answers (a few)
Date: Mon, 24 Nov 97 02:34:00 GMT

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

Christopher Culver,

Re: the contessa, I think she represents (aside from the contessa who
cameos in URTH OF THE NEW SUN) the aristocracy, yes, but also a facet
of the old human race.  In evolutionary terms, Meschi-boy and
Meschi-girl are sort of like Cro-magnon arriving at the end of the
Neanderthal time; the contessa hopes to subvert the new paradigm
(heh) by getting some of Meschi-boy's seed and founding a hybrid line
(i.e., she wants to pull a "Lilith").  (The Autarch of the play,
independent and on his own, comes up with a similar plan for himself
and Meschi-girl.)  This strategy we might call "the cuckoo gambit" in

Not all of the old humans follow this strategy, but then, so few of
them understand the metaphysical depths of what is going on in the
screwball comedy around them.

Gabriel is played by Dr. Talos, according to Gene Wolfe in one of the


What?! I failed to list Kyneburga, Solange, and Lybe--not only in the
LEXICON URTHUS but also in AE&1 and AE&2?!  Bad, bad.  Very bad!
They are saints.  I've got Kyneburga (aka Cyniburg) here right now
(Oxford), and I'm 95% certain I spotted Solange and Lybe at the
library.  I'll double check later in the week. (The contessa is
scared and is calling for her friends and/or maids, I think.  But
yes, I first thought one or more might be a goddess, as when Thecla
mentions "Caitanya," another word I couldn't find anywhere so Gene
Wolfe helped me out--the goddess called Wisdom in Bible

(Which isn't to say that saints can't also be former goddesses!  I
mean, St. Catherine and Kali seem to go way back, just to give one
example off the cuff.)

Re: statue kissing Jahi's foot.  You know, this has always struck me
as being that archaic tableau wherein the Goddess (who became Eve in
the OT version) treads upon the head of the chthonic circuit Serpent
(her consort who became the tempter in the OT version).  A stage in
that old cycle: SHE (god) and HE (snake) have HIM (icon: a five
pointed star); HIM and HE fight it out, the winner/survivor HIM
becoming married to SHE; SHE and HIM have HE; HE and HIM fight it out
 . . . et cetera.

Re: play enacted elsewhere in the text.  When Sev gets back to the
House Absolute and regent Valeria is on the throne, the =lines= are
straight out of the play.  Which is especially interesting because
most of the speakers did not see the play; also Jader's sister turns
out to have become the prophet (so "autarch" and "prophet" roles are
beling played by women); and then there's the contessa who sees
Severian . . . just like "the contessa" reported seeing a "strange
man" in the play!


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