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From: Jim Jordan <jbjordan@gnt.net>
Subject: (whorl) Re: Wounded Feet; The Outsider
Date: Fri, 04 Apr 1997 22:27:44 

[Posted from Whorl, the mailing list for Gene Wolfe's Book of the Long Sun]

At 09:44 AM 4/4/97 -0500, you wrote:
>Wounded Feet:
>I just reread Lewis's _Perelandra_, and interestingly enough the
>protagonist Ransom is wounded in the foot by the Un-Man (the Devil), and
>the wound doesn't heal until cleansed by the Perelandran Adam. I think
>the Fisher King motif is operative here.

	Sure, but where does the Fisher King motif itself come from? Lewis's book
is not only an answer to Wells's "Time Machine," but also a thoughtful
expansion of Genesis 2-3. The Messiah receives the foot wound while
crushing the serpent's head. The Fisher King motif comes more to the fore
in the sequel, "That Hideous Strength." Of course, behind this is Christ,
who sent His disciples forth as fishers of men, and who is the Fisher King.
Whatever similar stories may have played into the larger FK mythos, the
basis in Christendom is the Biblical material. Notice for instance Jacob's
limp, received after wrestling with God in Genesis 32. Of course, how all
these various streams are mediated into Wolfe is another question.

>Scourging the Moneylenders:
>I have to believe, potential for Wolfean heresy or no, that the
>description of the fortunate man "enlightened and possessed" by the
>Outsider is a clear reference to Jesus scourging the moneylenders. 
>Wolfe has remarked on this story before (in _Castle of the Otter_, I
>think), where he points out that the only thing we are specifically told
>that Jesus (by profession a carpenter) made is a whip.
>     -vizcacha

	Wolfe ain't no heretic. He intends to be fully orthodox in terms of
general conservative Christianity and specifically Roman Catholicism.
Remember that one of the biggest themes of "Long Sun" is ... enlightenment.
That's where it starts, and the large story is that of Silk's gradual
deliverance from idolatry. (Wolfe told me that idolatry would be a major
theme in "Long Sun," so I don't think we have to debate that; besides, it's
really obvious.) The false gods "possess" people like the demons in the
Bible. Since demons are fallen angels, possession by good gods in the Whorl
has the same basic root. Now, what does poor, ignorant Silk know about all
this? He starts out thinking that the Outsider is just a minor deity, but
suddenly realized He is much more, and gradually realizes that He is the
only real God there is. So, for Silk to give an inadequate expression to
the incarnation is not Silk speaking for Wolfe, but Silk using the
vocabulary he is familiar with (enlightenment and possession) to describe
something he is only in the process of beginning to comprehend. 


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