(urth) ATTENDING DAEDALUS
rasputin_ at hotmail.com
Sat Jan 28 04:14:48 PST 2006
It has been a little while since I read that book, but it was interesting
and thoughtfully put together regardless of questions of whether Wright's
interpretation is "right". My general opinion was that he was overly fixated
on a particular theme, and proceeded to force all of the data to fit his
theory, which in a couple of places led to almost self-contradictory
But one place to start in the way of critique, as I recall, is that Wright
leans on a couple of premises pretty heavily:
1) Wolfe intended his meaning to be clearly understood and so planned from
the beginning to provide all the keys necessary for understanding;
2) Some of the most crucial elements for understanding the series as a whole
are provided in the fifth book, UotNS.
The first premise by itself might be unobjectionable, but putting the two
together causes obvious problems. As far as I know Wolfe did not intend to
write that fifth book when he published the first four, and furthermore I
seem to recall that Wolfe's take was that UotNS didn't add anything at all
to the original theme, just added an additional perspective.
And I wouldn't bring this up just to nitpick, because if anything I'd want
to encourage people to read Attending Daedelus. But in context - and I would
be hard pressed at this point to explain specifically why - his main
argument relies so heavily on this picture of UotNS that it doesn't hold
together very well without it.
I'd be interested in discussing it further, though. It is a short enough
book that I could dig it out and look up the passages in question. And I
recall bookmarking a couple pages where Wright adds some really
thought-provoking quotes from Wolfe that I hadn't seen anywhere else; those
might be worth a post, if I didn't already do so a while back.
>Last spring I argued, largely with Adam Stephanides, in large part about
>role of the Hierogrammates in the Increate's designs for humanity. Simply
>put, I contended that the Hierogrammates were doing the Increate's bidding
>when they did whatever they did to or for Urth's sun, and therefore to that
>branch of humanity affected by the coming of the New Sun. By "Increate" I
>meant God, more specifically the Judeo-Christian God, as I believe the term
>has been commonly understood, aka "Pancreator" and "Outsider".
>Recently I received and read Peter Wright's _Attending Daedalus: Gene
>Artifice and the Reader_. The book was written by 1999, but wasn't
>until 2003, so the SHORT SUN books were not discussed.
>It is unfair to the author to summarize a whole book in a few lines, but it
>seems to be his contention that the Hierogrammates were selfish
>of humanity, that Severian was a hapless, rather foolish puppet, sans
>divinity in his orchestrated role as Conciliator. He believes that Wolfe
>wrote the Urth Cycle to be understood this way, that Wolfe played an
>elaborate mind game with the reader, playing on reader expectations to
>hoodwink the careless reader into believing otherwise. He even holds that
>"Increate" doesn't refer to God; it refers to the Hieros.
>Wright goes further, suggesting that the LONG SUN and SOLDIER series, and
>even PANDORA, serve as "metafictional commentary" on the Urth Cycle. If
>Wright is right, then I've been wrong. Surely others of you have read
>ATTENDING DAEDALUS. Nigel? I would be interested in hearing other's
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>To post, write urth at urth.net
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