(urth) Severian's memory

James Wynn crushtv at gmail.com
Fri Jul 24 05:55:35 PDT 2009

>Severian feels his memory is perfect because he can find no gaps in it 
>*and* apparently neither can Palaemon.

But having gaps in your memory is not the only way you can "forget". 
Severian's tale exemplifies this at the tippy-top of page 2 of The Shadow of 
the Torturer:

"I would have hidden, but __Roche__ held me, saying, 'Wait, I see pikes.' "
[snip][short exposition about how Severian never forgets anything because it 
is "recreated" each day][snip]
"...they had pikes, as __Drotte__ had said."

You can say this is a trivial detail, and it is. But it is also quite 
glaring and occurs in the first 10 inches of text, closely embedded around 
his first and one of his more elaborate claims of perfect memory. The intent 
seems to be to make a mockery of Severian's claim. You detail the conditions 
of all of Severian's forgetting episodes, but everything we know about the 
events surrounding Severian's life comes solely from himself. Yes this 
carries the Unreliable Narrator to an absurd level. That seems to have been 
Wolfe's point.


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