(urth) Honor

transentient transentient at gmail.com
Sat Dec 3 13:00:15 PST 2005

I was musing over this thread yesterday while parked in traffic. It  
seems to me that one ulterior motive Wolfe has in his writing is to  
shake the readers' sensibilities up a bit. It comes across as  
crotchety sometimes - like in the essay on Tolkein that came up in  
this thread two weeks ago, when he reminds the reader that once in  
the distant, antique 1950's, you had to mail-order your sf form the  
publisher, because there were no - gasp - amazon.coms or B&N. What I  
think he really wants to do is to see people realize that maybe their  
worldviews, and *in particular* their morale frameworks, are not  
absolute, and that in other worlds and other times, different  
sensibilities hold.

For example, the foreward to _Soldier in the Mist_, where he points  
out that slavery in ancient Greece was the humane, enlightened thing  
to do with conquered peoples, the only other real option being  
slavery. Severian becomes Autarch and disbands the Torturer's Guild,  
and says a piece about the Torturers being all good men, who happen  
to have a bad job.

It may be that these different worldviews are objectively harsher or  
less just than the worldview of we early 21st century English- 
literate. But not because the people in these other worlds of Wolfe's  
are primitive and barbaric and unenlightened, but just because the  
situation for them is different. Generally, (I think even in the  
relentlessly grim society of Nessus) Wolfe portrays people as always  
doiing the very best they can to do right.

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