(urth) Honor

transentient transentient at gmail.com
Thu Nov 24 17:36:05 PST 2005

On Nov 24 2005, at 5:02 PM, Michael Straight wrote:

> On 11/23/05, transentient <transentient at gmail.com> wrote
>> I definately agree that TWK contains a defence of, or apology for,
>> european feudalism.
> I think this is an oversimplification that lies at the heart of my
> disagreement with many of those who dislike the Wizard Knight (and
> also the guy linked to earlier who think Wolfe is fetishizing torture
> in Urth).
> Wolfe presents us with a different society, a society that has morals
> and values that differ from ours.  And I think we are encouraged to
> see that there are some things about this society that are admirable,
> and some which are not.  I do think there are times where Wolfe wants
> the reader to question his own values, to reconsider whether this or
> that aspect of Mythgarthr that we might initially reject as bad might
> not have some worth after all, but I wouldn't equate that as an
> apology for european feudalism
> Within this framework, we have Able.  Sometmes he is "good" by the
> values of his society, sometimes he is "good" by the values of ours.
> Sometimes he is both and sometimes he is neither.
> evil.

It isn't just a "different society," though, it is very definately a  
pre-medieval western european society. I am not saying that is _all_  
it is by any means; Wolfe definately gets into some serious proto- 
mythology and uses it to examine itself and other such fascinating  
puzzles. But if you ignore the definate references to Christianized  
germanic, celtic, and norse culture, I think you are missing the main  
thrust of the book.

> And I don't think that Wolfe giving Severian a cool outfit means he's
> trying to trick us into approving of torture.  Just the opposite.
> Sometimes, in real life, the bad guys have the coolest outfits.  And
> it's an important skill to be able to say, yes, the outfits look good,
> but the actions of the people wearing them are still

I think it is interesting that you bring up Severian, because if you  
compare Able to Severian he really is pretty saintly. Horn, too. 

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