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From: Jim Jordan <jbjordan@gnt.net>
Subject: Re: (whorl) holy alga-rhythm!
Date: Thu, 11 Sep 1997 00:13:18 

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

At 09:30 PM 9/9/97 GMT, Mantis wrote:
>And Nutria wants somebody from the "Gnostic camp," as it were, to
>explain to him how the Gnostic interpretation of THE BOOK OF THE NEW
>SUN (which Nutria says he himself originally took to be the
>primary/privileged/whatever-you-wanna-call-it reading) holds up in
>light of the non-Gnostic, i.e., Catholic (in the subsets where
>Catholicism and Gnosticism have no intersection) reading which Nutria
>now believes to be the primary reading of the text.

	My reason for reading it Catholicly is Wolfe's own statements to me in
correspondence. He seemed shocked that I took it gnostically and saw
Severian as another Number Five antichrist. Once again this raises the
question of whether Wolfe is really being all that ambiguous, or if he
scatters so many seeds and so few clues that he defeats his readers. I'm
inclined to believe the latter, and I see it as a weakness in his writing
at some points.
>If I may be so bold, I think that Nutria is very interested in how
>Gene Wolfe can be writing such material that seems so utterly non- or
>even almost anti-Catholic, yet this material turns out to be, under
>certain readings or interpretations, to be quite Catholic after all.
>(Unfortunately, as interesting as I myself find it to be, this sort of
>debate quickly becomes thorny and theological!)

	Well, if Severian were an antichrist figure, it would still be Catholic
fiction, but just "presenting" Catholicism by negation as it were. If the
universe of the New Sun were a genuinely closed gnostic universe, it would
just add another layer of interpretation. But from his comments in my
interview with him, Wolfe did not (for instance) intend the use of "Yesod"
and "Beriakh" to indicate a fully Qabbalistic universe, but was just using
them for "heaven" and "earth."


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