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From: Patri10629@aol.com
Subject: Re: (whorl) A defense of the Long Sun's style/plot
Date: Sat, 1 Apr 2000 18:29:47 EST

In a message dated 4/1/00 4:27:08 PM, akt@attglobal.net writes:

Bjjp2 then wrote, responding to Timothy Reilly:

>  I still think Long Sun is very disappointing.  The third person style of =
>  diction chosen is flat and to my mind rather boring, anaesthetising =
>  Wolfe's linguistic genius (so on display in OBW and TBNS).  The ideas, =
>  while interesting, did not require four volumes to present.  As for the =
>  meticulous plotting suggested by Alice Turner, I can only say this was =
>  not evident to me -  on the contrary I had the impression that unlike =
>  TBNS the series was not fully written in advance, if only because Exodus =
>  is twice as long as the three preceding volumes.>>

Two things:

In terms of plotting: I, too, had difficulties with the Talus factory scene. 
But bear with me and check this out.

Early in NIGHTSIDE... Silk has cracked the book at random and is interpreting 
two passages from Chrasmologic Writings for the children in the church. They 
have to do with birds. This is right before Oreb's botched sacrifice and 
right after his pruchase. Notice how Wolfe's draws our attention to that 
fact, even though he is not talking about Oreb at all.

P. 49,  NLS  "...when the actors and actresses  have washed away their makeup 
and changed back into the clothing they ordinarily wear..."

And then...

P. 49-50  NLS "It will not help us as the foreknowing authors point out in 
the next line, to daub a raven, smearing a blackbird with the delicate 
beauties of the lark or the decent brown of the bulbul. Not enough, even, to 
gild it like the goldfinch. It is still a raven..."

And then...

P. 50 (IBID) "Suppose, for example, that some uneducated man...were by chance 
thrust into the office of His Cognizance, the Polocutor. You would eat and 
sleep in his cognizance's big palace on the Palatine. You would hold the 
baculus and wear the jeweled robes, and all the rest of us would kneel for 
your blessing. But you could not provide us with the wisdom that it would be 
your duty to supply. You would be a croaking raven daubed with paint, with 
gaudy colors."

He is talking about Questzal. A figure who will not be revealed until 600 
some pages later. In the opening chapter of Calde of The Long Sun where he 
dabs on his makeup and flies away.

You do not get things like this in dashed-off first drafts. This is the mind 
of an master builder or an engineer--"a foreknowing author" as he slyly and 
self-consciouly admits in the text--laying foundations that will not 
evidently bear weight until much later. And, still, this foreshadowing of the 
impersonating inhumi is only one level of what Wolfe is doing in these early, 
seemingly innocent pasages.

In terms of style: This is his method throughout the Long Sun Books. 
Deception. Thusly the prose reflects the major themes and thrust of the 
novels: Cutting through the crap to understand the mysterious revelation of 
an unknowable true god as well as the underlying conspiracies and strategems 
of mortals and false gods. Deceptively transparent prose which is so clear 
and narratively propulsive it seems to be what it appears to be. It is not. 
It is some of the densest, metaphor-laden and trickiest prose I have ever 
read. And it is beautiful on any level, in my opinion. Try reading any 
passage aloud and marvel at the music. 

For further proof: Re-read the very first two pages of NIGHTSIDE--so simple, 
so plain--read right to the first line of dialogue "I will not fail." Try 
decoding just how many motifs are buried there. In many ways, Wolfe has given 
the shape and structure of the whole saga. He even mentions Blue and Green.  
Talk about foreshadowing!

Most of this stuff I didn't get until my third read. I'm on my fifth now and 
I'm still discovering, still captivated. Severian's beautiful grave poetry 
was a different kettle of fish. This is airier stuff, wind-made, bird 
currents, but jsut as strong--and like the wind, you can only see it when it 
interacts with something that crosses its path. Indirectly, that is.

Hope this helps.

Patrick O'Leary

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