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From: "Patrick O'Leary" <poleary@cecom.com>
Subject: (whorl) Re:Denial as a Literary Structure
Date: Fri, 20 Apr 2001 11:17:50 

Adam wrote:

--------------- MESSAGE whorl.v012.n107.9 ---------------

From: Adam Stephanides <adamsteph@earthlink.net>
Subject: "Dangling" plot threads

>>So, if I'm correct, TBOTSS takes its place with PEACE as a radical
experiment with narrative: in this case, a psychological drama which must be
largely inferred from what the narrator leaves out.>>

A stunning post, that may provide a clue to the various vaguely unsatisfied
reactions that several here have expressed about RTTW : "muddled", "hurried,"
"Senile" "Sloppy."  I think this may have something to do with its difficult and
frustrating narrative structure.

While we shouldn't worship of the text, (Torah, Torah, Torah) I think we have
to give Wolfe the benefit of a doubt. (In my considered opinion
the man does not make aesthetic mistakes. He makes philosophical/ narrative
choices which we may or may not agree with, may or may not like, may or may not
be moved by. And, of course, he makes typos. Errors of a different order.)

I agree with Adam because what's most striking to me about RTTW (and a great deal of Wolfe)
is what is missing. I muse at length about this defining literary tactic in my essay on Wolfe
"If Ever A Wiz There Was" which appears in my latest book: OTHER VOICES, OTHER DOORS.

I think it may be important to ask: "What is missing from the text of the short sun books?"

Here are, to me, some provocative missing scenes. There must be more.

Silk/Horn's conversation with Chenille.

Silk/Horn's final confrontation with Sinew.

Silk/Horn's reunion talk with Nettle.

Most of Silk/Horn's adventures of Green.

Hyacinth's death.

As Adam said, each of these imply a level of psychic torment
that cannot be borne by the narrator.

So we have a story founded on a search for Hero/Saint by a very human man,
who becomes the Hero/Saint he sought.

The story is told after his transformation. He spends the bulk of the narrative
oddly, in denial and guilt. Haunted by his new identity and his old sins--His failure.

He is Horn denying his is Silk.

But, finally, we discover that he is Silk denying he is Silk.

What we take to be a story of a sinner who has reincarnated a Saint
and cannot bear the contrast between his soul's knowledge of goodness
and his failure to live up to that model--is actually a sleight of hand,
a narrative trick , a portrait of denial.

The Short Sun books (it occurs to me that Horn is Silk's "Shorter Son")
are actually the story of a Saint who is tormented by Sin, running from his
mission, denying his vocation, fleeing his Sainthood, who finally accepts his sinful nature,
who embraces his humanity.

Horn saves Silk.

Just some thoughts.

Patrick O'leary

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