(urth) a lurker asks a question

Bruce Hayles brucehayles at gmail.com
Fri Oct 3 13:55:03 PDT 2008

I didn't mean "alternate reality" literally. I mean that were circumstances
different for Severian you can see him being a good librarian. That is, if
Severian had different parents and lived in the citadel and he ended up
reading a lot in the library, perhaps he would have been taken as an
apprentice of the librarians. The guild (if I remember correctly) takes
orphans (such as they can get) small enough that their heads are below the
phallus of some statue. I don't think Severian could be taken by the
librarians while being an apprentice torturer.

On Fri, Oct 3, 2008 at 4:02 PM, Gwern Branwen <gwern0 at gmail.com> wrote:

> On 2008.10.01 16:27:51 -0400, Bruce Hayles <brucehayles at gmail.com>
> scribbled 4.7K characters:
> >    Gwern mentioned an interview with Gene Wolfe saying that Severian is
> an intellectual that
> >    doesn't know he is an intellectual. "It's a pity you are a torturer, "
> Ultan said. "You might
> >    have been a philosopher..." on pg 47. Reading Severian's narrative, I
> can't help but think he
> >    is an intellectual; but his narrative never really reveals that he
> thinks of himself as such
> >    (consistent with the quote from Wolfe). I don't recall specific
> instances, but Severian does
> >    think of himself as dense. For example, when he cannot explain why the
> claw only heals at
> >    certain times he thinks himself slow. So maybe this chapter serves to
> validate the idea that
> >    Severian is an intellectual by showing that other people (Ultan) think
> so.
> >
> >    Along the same line, the chapter points out of incongruity of Severian
> as a torturer. We are
> >    forced to compare Cyby and Severian. On pg 45 Ultan describes the
> process whereby apprentices
> >    are selected. "He hesistated, and though I could discern no expression
> on his face, I received
> >    the impression that he feared what he was about to say might cause
> Cyby pain." And afterwards,
> >    when Severian says that the guild takes such children as they can,
> Ultan mutters, "We do the
> >    same." The implication seems to be that Cyby is a less than ideal
> apprentice. This combined
> >    with Ultan's previous observation of Severian's intellectualism seems
> to suggest an alternate
> >    reality in which Severian was an apprentice to the librarian. I would
> like to draw this out
> >    further by saying that Cyby is incurious and would make a good
> torturer, but I do not see any
> >    evidence for it in the text (perhaps I missed it.)
> ...
> Hm, but how would this Librarian-past work? The librarians only take young
> children who read so much they find the Book of Gold; so would this past be
> one in which Severian was not taken by the torturers and in which he lived
> in the citadel regardless? Or could he still have been taken by the
> torturers but found his way to the Book of Gold and then taken by the
> librarians?
> --
> gwern
> Armani rounds World 7NL Medco Bunny Consul TECS ssor SBI
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