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From: "Alice K. Turner" 
Subject: (urth) Andrew's thesis of Heroes
Date: Wed, 18 Dec 2002 22:57:21 -0500

From Andrew Bollen--hi there:

> There are several Large Mysteries, but for me the major one is the
> relationship between Silk, SilkHorn and Severian. I cannot help but see a
> progression, from Silk, to SilkHorn, to Severian. The raw Silk is
> of a wet - unwilling or unable to really take the reins of leadership in a
> crisis, rushing to his woman & leaving his people leaderless and adrift; a
> Paris filling Moses' sandals Contrast this with SilkHorn - a veritable old
> testament judge, time after time mending fractured communities, dealing
> robust justice.
> Wolfe does this wonderfully, I think. We see Horn at that start of Short
> Sun, judge of his little family, strong and courageous, but limited in his
> potential. He dies on Green, when circumstances overwhelm those limits.
> Melded with Silk, his strengths live on, but now as the strengths of a
> rather than an constrained within the confines of an ordinary mortal. All
> through Blue, I was thinking: Surely this yearning for Silk is an error; I
> cannot imagine Silk being of any use at all in this gritty, down-and-dirty
> world.  I loved the way this view was both validated & transcended, in the
> development.
> SilkHorn becomes a wonderful combination of Odin/Mercury, Heracles (not
> least in the yearning everybody has for his aid, in his supposed absence -
> so reminiscent of the Argonauts' yearning for the absent Heracles in the
> Argonautika; I would be amazed to find Wolfe did not intend this
> and Moses.
> And this combination owes much to Horn. I cannot imagine Silk inspiring
> kind of fear & awe that SilkHorn does, were he to lack the stern qualtiies
> of Horn.
> Beyond Horn-qualities, there is an aspect to SilkHorn  whose origin I do
> quite understand. This is the magician aspect, which is exactly correct
> a character who is part Hermes, part Moses (who was clearly a magician).
> This does not come from Horn, and I cannot see any evidence of it coming
> from Silk. From the text, it must be a gift in some way from the Vanished
> People, and of course there is a passage where a gift is explicitly
> But the whole extended cycle is very intimately bound up with the idea of
> personalities and qualities layering on to each other, either by
> transmission or by recycling through time. It would be much more fitting
> such a layering to be involved with this aspect also. Is there any
> of SilkHorn melding with a Vanished Person?

I am sort of a vanished person (lower case) on this list myself, but Andrew
makes some great points and inspires me. Andrew, this is a fine thesis,
though almost certainlyWolfe entirely backpedaled it--I mean that he had no
notion of the invention of Silk or what would become of him at the time he
was planning Sev's adventures. No, I do not think there is any such meld. I
think it is useful to think of the VPs as angels, and of SilkHorn's gifts as
having been angelically conferred, rather than conferred by Sev. who is
certainly a magician, as Jesus was (water into wine, loaves and fishes,
etc.). And there's certainly a reference to Fairyland, the magic ring and so
forth. (Let me assure you that the confluence goes back to the Middle Ages
and, to me at any rate, is quite valid. Hi Rat.) Lives of the saints are
chockfull of miracles of much this sort. Mint was also miraculously endowed,
and clearly a mythically heroic Joan of Arc figure. Greek heroes (like
Hercules) become demigods, and that, perhaps, is what you are after. (I
never before this moment thought of equating a saint with a demigod, but now
I feel like writing a PhD thesis on it!)

I think it is also useful to think of Apheta as a sort of Mary Poppins (in
charge) angel rather than a demiurge (I'm sorry, I can't respond directly to
your second post as I still can't cope (Ranjit!!) with the new digest
without a whole new reply to your second post and my attention span is only
15 seconds long.) She makes quite a point of downplaying herself and her
powers. Of course Mary P. wasn't so sexy!

> Now to Severian. I think it is completely natural to see a progression
> the Moses/judge figure SilkHorn to the sort-of/kind-of Christ figure
> Severian (no doubt there are theological problems with this, but I don't
> think that Wolfe worries about them, so we need not).  We are led to
> understand that the raw Severian was refined into this role through
> recycling in time. My "gut feel" is that part of the process must have
> involved a melding with SilkHorn, somehow or other.
> Perhaps this is wrong; the only concrete evidence I have for this is
> comment somewhere to the effect that Silk is a member of Severian's Order,
> for whatever that is worth. But surely there is a connection between the
> two, not just a matter of some circumstantial genetic argy-bargy as has
> proposed, but with a deaper meaning. Otherwise, why have the characters
> inhabit the same fictional space at all? The apex of the whole cycle is
> Severian's role in the redemption of humanity. Anything not part of that
> story surely does not warrant two further multi-volume narratives. So I
> think that Long Sun/Short Sun must be seen as a "precursor", convoluted &
> twisted in time, of course, but not in theme.

[some snippety]

Yes indeed, but it's after-the-fact logic. Trying to pull it all together.
Which is what makes RttW such an annoying book (it has other annoying
factors too). And, for the record, I did *not* find URTH an annoying book,
as others have done; I found it both integral and uplifting in a awful way,
and it might be my favorite GW book, just for the wonderful descriptions of
the ship.

Also thanks for that Graves tree poem--I love that. Who cares if he used
someone else's translation. His words make the hair stand up from the back
of the neck, his own definition of true poetry.



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