(urth) Babbie, a Destrier?

Jerry Friedman jerry_friedman at yahoo.com
Mon Jan 11 20:46:46 PST 2010

--- On Mon, 1/11/10, Tom Hopkins <topkins at hotmail.co.uk> wrote:
> My problem with this is that in
> Appendix of Shadow of the
> Claw, Wolfe is acting as the translator rather than the
> writer himself. He only
> knows the facts provided by Severian, and if Destriers were
> to have 8 legs it
> may be something he were to take for granted, as for him it
> would be
> commonplace and known by nearly all; and therefore fail to
> mention.

I don't think Wolfe is trying to give a consistent
picture of not knowing anything other than what's in
Severian's manuscript.  For one thing, how did he learn
the language?  For another, there are the comments at
the end of the Appendix to /Shadow/ about collectors
who have let him see artifacts and people who have let
him visit "the era's few extant buildings".

Of course this contradicts the idea that Sev's universe
is an earlier cycle of ours, and the other three
appendices seem to imply that "the manuscripts" are
the only source of knowledge.  Anyway, the picture
is inconsistent, and Wolfe may have changed his mind
at some point.

Of course we still have the right to picture destriers
as having eight legs without Wolfe's knowing it--in
which case does /he/ know whether they're related to
huses?  As you say below, this could be something he
thought of later.

> With
> animals throughout the books he rarely describes them in
> depth, merely by name
> as he assumes we would know what they are. I feel this
> could be another such
> case, or maybe merely something Gene Wolfe decided to
> elaborate on later in
> another series as nothing contradicts it in the original
> text. 

Jerry Friedman


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