(urth) Neighbors as Faeries

David Stockhoff dstockhoff at verizon.net
Fri Mar 20 06:01:08 PDT 2009

No problem. Thanks for pointing me to your essay. The parallels to LS are indeed unavoidable.

My guess as to the reason Wolfe chose this story to retell is simply that it involves a character who promotes the cult of the High God. He doesn't do it because he's pure of heart etc. but because it's the right thing to do; it's also cool the way he appears and disappears as though he has been transformed or Apollo manifests in him. 

This kind of tale is often taken to "prefigure" monotheism. That makes Wolfe's aim superficially propagandistic, in a way. 

But I think it's more personal than that---he reads myths and thinks, "I could tell that story better by reshaping it to point to the true Divine that I myself seek." The value of the myths---and of Baum's stories and other Wolfean models---is that they instill a sense of wonder, perhaps especially childlike, which Wolfe clearly considers appropriate in approaching the divine.

In fact, the analogy to a child's imagination is probably apt. As a child might believe the moon smiles at him and wishes him good night, so the pre-Christians would naturally see a multitude of spirits in the world without recognizing the most subtle one that animates them all. And none of us has any particular advantage in this over the Celts or Greeks.


Message: 2
Date: Thu, 19 Mar 2009 23:08:22 -0500
From: "James Wynn" <crushtv at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: (urth) Neighbors as Faeries
To: "The Urth Mailing List" <urth at lists.urth.net>
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However it is, I'm grateful to David Stockhoff for bringing the myth of Actaeon to my attention today. Before reading SS I had already written an essay showing that the LS narrative overlaid the myth of Aristaeus. If I had stopped to think that Wolfe might carry that story on into the SS when I read it, I might been *looking* for Horn to be turned in to a stag before I even read it. Or I might have missed it, which seems likely since Wolfe has the story so cleverly twisted.


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