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Date: Mon, 15 Apr 2002 09:52:40 -0700 (PDT)
From: Jerry Friedman 
Subject: Re: (urth) 5HC a good introduction to wolfe? (was Washington  Post article)

--- Andy Robertson  wrote:
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: James Jordan
> >> Well, Alga, once again you and I have something weirdly in common,
> for
> 5HC was also my first Wolfe, and thereafter I got and read all I could.
> .net
> Me. also.  One thing that sucked me in was the library at the beginning,
> the
> one with the great dome which M Million climbs up, and the pun on
> Wilhelm's
> MILE LONG SPACE SHIP  (this being a future where there really are such
> ships).  Trivial, but so charming.  But of coure that is only one little
> note in a symphony.  I read it again and again.

Your timing is perfect, folks, since I just read 5HC.  Keep it up!

The above made me think about the library scene, with its plug for
Bernard Wolfe (I haven't read the Wilhelm story) and the hints
there (along with others) that the narrator's name is Wolfe.  Am
I supposed to think that Mr. Million is the author (or a descendant)?
That the narrator is a portrait of the well-born wolf after a series
of worse and worse upbringings?  Scary.

People here talk about how the three novellas shed light on or
subvert each other, but I don't see the connections.  I guess I
can wonder when Marsch wrote "A Story"--in prison, after he was
replaced by an abo, or went crazy and thought he was replaced by
an abo, or whatever?  Other than that, what am I missing?  (As I
missed the reference to Proust, who I haven't read, and passed by
the 666 as a mere ornamental detail instead of thinking of the
anti-Christ.  And maybe it's unfortunate that "saltimbanque" makes
me think of "acrobat" rather than "humbug".)

As for introductions, my introduction to Wolfe was various short
stories, most of which I found incomprehensible.  The 5HC novella
may have been one of them--if it was, it didn't grab me.  Certainly
the world-building is superb, but so little happens.  I might even
have read the whole novel; I got deja vu several times in "V. R. T.",
and I don't *think* it was the now-familiar themes.  (Mating with
trees, ha!)  Anyway, it wasn't till I read _The Book of the New Sun_
in my early twenties (is it possible?) that I really liked Wolfe.
5HC is the *last* place I'd recommend anyone start because it seems
the most pointless to me of any of Wolfe's novels, and others might
miss whatever point I'm missing.  But this is probably just a matter
of taste.

Jerry Friedman

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