(urth) Wolfe: Misogynist or Realist?

David Duffy David.Duffy at qimr.edu.au
Thu Oct 19 18:05:56 PDT 2006

This has been gone over a number of times in the last few years, here and
elsewhere.  The attitudes and actions of the characters in his books are
always completely consonant with the worlds they live in, and those worlds
are usually classical or medieval in spirit (perhaps Augustinian) and
detail.  To me, he captures those times pretty accurately.  And in most of
those times, the status of women was as he portrays it.  Similarly, his
male central characters often represent the virtues, whether classical
(which are masculine virtues I would think) or theological.  One can then
only ask why someone may wish to write about those settings, and his essay
on Tolkein may answer that.

Wolfe has Dorcas say that thoughts are noblest and greatest when the world
is at its hardest, and also the converse.  So, he always puts his
characters through the wringer.

I think the book that seldom gets enough discussion is _Peace_, in that it
is (presumably) closer to the life that Gene Wolfe and his parents and
grandparents live/lived.  I think Olivia's portrait is psychologically
convincing.  I also think the speech (in the doctor's surgery, isn't it)
about the ideal life being the now dying agrarian lifestyle is probably
how the author feels (cf _My Antonia_).  It is also in keeping with
Catholic ideas of around that time (late 19th-early 20th C) of the good

David Duffy.

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