(urth) mystery of the guild

Chris P rasputin_ at hotmail.com
Wed Feb 11 14:08:10 PST 2009

Part of what makes those passages difficult to take straightforwardly is that Severian is clearly writing for an audience, and there's an element of apologia. Many times I see him write about certain sentiments which would make him a more human or sympathetic character - and he succeeds at that - but those sentiments are not necessarily evident in his actions (as you and others note). And that raises the question of, in your example, whether he actually had reservations or whether (after the fact) he felt that it would sound better in the ears of posterity to *say* he had reservations. This is compounded by the fact that he has a sort of theme, throughout the series, of deflecting responsibility for his own actions, or casting them in a light where they seem inevitable/pre-ordained.

This tactic works so well that Wright, for example, goes so far as to essentially remove all responsibility from Severian by interpreting him a hapless tool/pawn of alien forces.

"When small men begin to cast big shadows, it means that the sun is about to set." -- Lin Yutang

> From: sonofwitz at butcherbaker.org
> To: urth at lists.urth.net
> Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2009 21:41:38 +0000
> Subject: Re: (urth) mystery of the guild
> >Most people would balk at causing the death of a planet's population, even
> >if they had assurances that a greater good would come of it, by and by.
> >Severian had no such scruples.
> >
> >-Roy
> when I read Urth, I thought he had a fair amount of reservations and guilt.  When he went back in time he lamented that he had abandoned the survivors.
> I agree that he obeyed and wasn't overly troubled, but I think Wolfe made him human enough to point out that he did have reservations. They were overcome, probably, as much by his lifelong hope in a regenerative light, as by his simple need to obey. He's betrayed all such allegiances previously, so he might have done the same if he hadn't yearned for the New Sun since his childhood.
> ~witz
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