(urth) Saint names

Dan'l Danehy-Oakes danldo at gmail.com
Thu Jul 27 10:04:14 PDT 2006

On 7/27/06, b sharp <bsharporflat at hotmail.com> wrote:
> Dan'l writes:
> >I suspect that he _does_ [have a purpose in his choice of saint names] but
> >that we haven't >worked out the relationships yet. I'm certainly not
> >familiar enough with the ancient saints to do this.
> Using the internet I've been able to explore the lives of some saints. There
> are a lot of convenient sites available. This one provides a thumbnail
> sketch of each-
> http://www.catholic-forum.com/Saints/patron02.htm-  and there are sites
> which go into greater detail for each saint.

H'mmm. I see some interesting things.

One St. Severian was a martyr whose flesh was torn off his body
with iron rakes - i.e., tortured to death. He was a Roman Senator,
which may be relevant to Severian's governmental connections.

(Interestingly, another St. Severian was also tortured to death, but
he was canonized well after GW wrote tBotNS.)

Palaemon and Gurloes were monastic leaders. (Hermit community
in the case of P.)  Malrubius was a monastic, founder of a church,
and a martyr.

Vodalus was a missionary and a miracle-worker, and, interestingly,
not a miracle-worker.

Agia and Agilus, interestingly, are both French. I find myself wondering
if Wolfe used any kind of pattern regarding where the various saints
came from...

> Since Gene Wolfe wrote BotNS pre-Internet, I have to imagine he wrote
> thinking people would have only The Catholic Encyclopedia and other
> inconvenient sources to interpret his work and didn't make the references
> hopelessly obscure and impenetrable. What purpose in that?

I don't think he particularly expected people to "get" this stuff: but he's
writing, among other things, very clearly in the shadow of the great
High Modernists, Joyce and Proust. Proust provides the fascination with
memory; Joyce, the joy in putting in obscure details and patterns for
his own amusement. The Joycean play isn't intended for us so much
as for himself.

At least, that's how I see it.

Dan'l Danehy-Oakes, writer, trainer, bon vivant
"Shovels are essential to the fantasy genre.
However, they are primarily used by the authors rather than the
characters." -- Stephen R. Donaldson

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