(urth) Wolfe at Readercon

James Wynn crushtv at gmail.com
Tue Jul 21 08:51:16 PDT 2009

>So if Wolfe came up with this particular idea, it seems consistent
>to me to think that Wolfe had some idea of where he wanted
>to go with the idea.  It's not just a gimmick to allow, for instance,
>characters to deceive Latro because he can't remember that they
>were untrustworthy.

I always thought it was intended as a critique on the integrity of history. 
Wolfe did this even more directly in "Peace". Also, while Severian *says* he 
has perfect memory, it begs the question "How does he know that?" And in 
fact immediately after he makes this claim the first time, he commits a 
glaring error of fact.

Every morning Latro reads a diary that others tell him was written by 
himself. But he can't really *know* that he wrote it or (assuming he did) if 
he made it up or if he is crazy. He's like us when we read history.

We assume that history is *real* and myth is not, in part, because history 
is verifiable. However, the facts of Herodotus's history in which Latro's 
story is set--the first history so called--was challenged only a few decades 
later by Thucydides. Also it is full of stories of manticores (verified), 
flying snakes, wool growing on trees (verified), and a personal encounter 
with Pan. We can find evidence that *supports* certain claims of history, 
but we can't truly verify or discount recorded events and conversations. 
That ability has been lost to the *mists* of Time.


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