(urth) Severian's memory

Craig Brewer cnbrewer at yahoo.com
Fri Jul 24 06:42:29 PDT 2009

I also find it strange that he loses his way in the Corridors of Time. It happens so early that it seems like another flag that even his memory of immediate events is far from perfect.

----- Original Message ----
From: James Wynn <crushtv at gmail.com>
To: The Urth Mailing List <urth at lists.urth.net>
Sent: Friday, July 24, 2009 7:55:35 AM
Subject: Re: (urth) Severian's memory

> 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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