(urth) Were Jolenta and Dorcas lovers?
wolfe-lists at danrabin.com
Mon Oct 30 21:05:05 PST 2006
My own theory about the passage that Brent Dyer cites is that the
juxtaposition between Severian's casual treatment of the possibility
of sex between him and the boy, and the possibility of sex between
Dorcas and Jolenta, is intended to be strange to us who read it: the
former is shocking in our culture, the latter somewhat tittilating.
Severian seems to find both possile relationships not only
matter-of-fact but also comparable: they are "play".
I also note that Jolenta speaks in the boating scene of her enhanced
looks leading women to want to protect her (out of lust, presumably),
whereas Severian's adoption of his young namesake seems to arise out
of a sense of responsibility rather than desire for sexual
companionship. Somehow this makes me think of that bit of Severian's
character that qualifies him to be the New Sun.
More suggestive associations that I can't weave into a nice essay at
The stories of Jolenta and Little Severian are both woven with
enemies of the New Sun.
Baldanders starts as Frankenstein, and creates his ideal Doctor to
manage him as he becomes more the Monster. The homonculus Doctor
enhances the "sylph" into an idealized image of human beauty (Bride
of Frankenstein?), but only for amusement: the creation cannot
survive without him, and he is indifferent to her survival (indeed
contomptuous of it).
I think there's some sort of parody of the humas/Hieros
mutual-regeneration cycle in the Baldanders/Talos relationship, but
it's not an exact correspondence, since the devoted Talos is more
like the Hierodules than like either of the two races in question.
There's also an inversion of the enumerated characteristics of the
Hieros: "united, compassionate, just" into characteristics of
Baldanders: solitary, callous, self-interested and ambitious. But
then again Talos comments on how Baldanders created him to have
characteristics that he himself lacked--contrast with the story of
the humans of the last cycle shaping the Hieros to have the humans'
*best* (not lacking) qualities.
[I may have the terminology of Hieros vs. Hierogrammates mixed up
here, and would welcome correction.]
The Little Severian story brings in Agia, Hethor, the magicians, and
Typhon from the Anti-Sunny party. Little Severian loses his familty
to the alzabo and must rely on Big Severian, who rescues the boy from
the magicians and is himself rescued from them by the diverted malice
of Hethor. The boy is lost to the indifferent automatic malice and
arrogance of Typhon, from whose clutches Severian rescues the Claw
before losing it to Baldanders. Rescue, lose is the repeated
pattern. At the end of the third volume Severian has no Dorcas, no
boy, no Claw-as-jewel, no Terminus Est, no guild. He has been
stripped of external objects of devotion and sources of power. He
rescues the Claw-as-claw and, er, soldiers on. In the chapel at the
lazaret he experiences praying to himself. At this point, when he
can finally see that his implicit quest for the New Sun leads to
himself and not through external objects and persons, he gives up the
Claw voluntarily. He reports being under the impression that he was
doing this to fulfill his self-imposed obligation to return the Claw
to the Pelerines, but (as he himself observes in the first book) it
is not necessary to understand such symbols to be affected by them.
He goes on to resecue and lose Master Ash, to lose the companions he
found at the lazaret, to gain and lose the companionship of
Guasacht's irregulars, and finally on to "back into the throne".
I just reread the passage in which Severian returns the Claw, and I noticed
1. He puts the Claw pretty much where a relic of a saint would go in
a Roman Catholic altar, and
2. He bloodies himself tightening the clamps holding down the altar
stone, so his posession of the Claw both ends and begins with him
Enough for now. Amazon US says that _Soldier of Sidon_ comes out
tomorrow, and Amazon UK claims to have it available already. We may
distracted from _The Book of the New Sun_ for some weeks hence.
-- Dan Rabin
More information about the Urth