(urth) Wolfe: Misogynist? and accessibility and where to begin

Bob Miller bob_bageera at hotmail.com
Thu Oct 19 05:19:58 PDT 2006

Perhaps it is. I don't know. Tolkien is incredibly masculine, perhaps more
insulting to women by reason of simply ignoring them, treating them as
nonentities, bit players. Yes, Eowyn, Arwen and Galadriel notwithstanding
(and the latter two are mythical creatures, not ordinary human women).
And yet vast throngs of women are in love with his writings.

How do we explain Mo's observation, if it is correct?

Tolkien's writings are permeated? with two things that lend them an 
attractiveness that is immeasurable.  The first is the identification the 
reader gets with wonderful, in all senses of the word, characters.  The 
second is the love of his universe, with all its difficulties, that is 
obvious to any reader.

Many of Wolfe's leads are ambiguous and he deals with a great deal or horrid 
situations.  I would submit this tends to reduce his readership in some 
quarters.  And even his "best" chars show a great deal of self change in 
those books that allow development.

b sharp also said:
>I think we can all agree Wolfe is
>writing from his heart and his deeper feelings
>about women are expressed.

Perhaps. Wolfe's writing is so oblique, I am hard pressed to identify what
his feelings are on ANYTHING. Even what I said earlier in this post is based
mostly on his interviews. His political leanings are also inscrutable in his
fiction, beyond generalities like an abhorrence of despotism. The fact is,
Wolfe has a gift for presenting contradictory arguments (through the
dialogue) that are very intelligent.

I really hope we'll start inviting curious people to start with _Nightside
The Long Sun_, _Devil In The Forest_, _The Knight_, even _Soldier Of The
Anything, really. No matter how delightful we may find it, _Shadow Of The
Torturer_ is Wolfe's least accessible novel.

I think the Wizard Knight is one of the very best novels ever written.  When 
I read it to my wife, there were multiple occasions where I would stop and 
we would just stare at each other going "wow".  And it's fun, the chars, 
except Bold Berthold, are not far above us; they are, compared to me, better 

One more thing: this may be a strawman, but perhaps it has been said by
someone, somewhere that Wolfe is incapable of writing a sympathetic female
character. How about Io? She seems to be totally respectable and good. She's
honest, wise, loyal, kind and brave. She does unsuccessfully try to seduce
Latro, at one point, but only after travelling with him for the better part
of a year and falling in love with him. One does not get the impression that
she is unreasonable or wanton.

I think Wolfe, like many of us, while beinig driven by youthandhormones at 
one time, has long been coming to a more complete and cooperative 
orientation in his female characters for all the 35 years I've been reading 
him.  Perhaps the queen in the Wizard/Knight is a nod toward that elder 
orientation (a particular funhouse mirror of reality) as Zelazny once 
characterized his own work?
Thank you all again for stimulating my mind

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