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Date: Tue, 22 Oct 2002 20:54:39 -0400
From: "Kevin J. Maroney" 
Subject: Re: (urth) Gnostic Wolfe

Alga Alice just encouraged me to post this observation I made to her off-list:

It's pretty clear to me that Wolfe didn't have the Short Sun in mind when 
he started Long Sun, but that he did by the time he finished Long Sun. Pas 
as demiurge is such a clear image that it's hard to believe that he 
*didn't* intend for the work to function, in part at least, as an attack on 
Gnosticism; he may have teased the ideas out further as he composed the 
later novels.

My biggest metaquestion about Return to the Whorl was "why is there so much 
narrative effort devoted to burying Scylla's shade?"; if she somehow 
represents Sophia, then it makes more sense. But it's hard to see how she 
would be Sophia. The adult Scylla is about as vile a character as Wolfe has 
limned, and the child is pretty passive.

Here's a connection I've never teased out before: Silk is (in part) St. 
Francis of Assisi, who lived from 1181 to 1226, in Umbria; his mother is 
believed to have been Provencal. The Albigensians flourished in Provence in 
the 12th and 13th centuries; the Albigensians were quasi-Gnostic. The 
Catholic Encyclopedia doesn't say anything about Francis opposing the 
Albigensians, but the temporal overlap is striking.

Wombat, a. k. a. Kevin J. Maroney kjm@panix.com
New York Review of Science Fiction: 


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