(urth) Spring Wind

Andrew Mason andrew.mason53 at googlemail.com
Thu Sep 30 07:36:57 PDT 2010

James Wynn wrote:

>> Andrew Mason-
>> I'd totally agree that 'myths made real' is a theme at work in BOTNS.
>> But that still leaves open various ways of reading the stories in
>> _Wonders of Urth and Sky_' they can either be accounts of the events
>> which made the myths real, or they can be myths themselves, waiting to
>> be made real.
> Okay. But that still suggests a task for the reader to connect the
> stories to "actual" events in the novel.

Yes, and I do think there are correspondences between 'Frog' and the
life of Severian. (I do find it harder to make out with 'The Student
and his Son') But on my reading the correspondences needn't be
perfect, any more than the correspondences between the life of Jesus
and the myths he is thought to fulfil are perfect. Indeed, the idea of
a story that imperfectly represents the reality it relates to seems to
run through the whole work - Jonas and Cyriaca tell stories about the
past of Urth which are illuminating, but get some details wrong; Dr
Talos's play corresponds, sometimes in amazing detail, to the actual
events surrounding the coming of the New Sun, but also diverges from
them in some ways; _Frankenstein_ is an imperfect account of the story
of Baldanders.

>> Andrew Mason-
>> And there is the complicating factor that they reflect
>> not only ancient myths but also real events from the past.)
> Yes, but it is not debilitating, I think. I think we can safely say that
> the parts that are in the original myths/stories are absolutely
> historical.

Possible crossed wires here - when I said 'real events' I didn't mean
events in the time of Typhon or whatever, but things like the Pilgrim
Fathers, the Monitor and the Merrimack (I think also Pompey and the
Holy of Holies). So if the stories are myths made real, they seem also
to be real events made real (again), which is a bit odd. (But perhaps
not so odd. It is thought to be ther relation of some Old Testament
stories to Jesus, after all.)

> However, (this is important I think) the entire novels --the lives of
> Severian, Silk, Horn, Green, Number Five-- are mapped over mythology and
> literature in the same way these little stories are. When people post on
> the list some close reference or another, others shrug and say "That's
> interesting." But they don't assume Green is _really_ Attis or Horn is
> _really_ John Carter. But (to my surprise) they often think something
> like that about the _Urth & Sky_ stories.

Well, I think there are reasons for that. First, we are told the
stories come down from the remote past, and while that could just mean
Typhon's time, there's no reason why it should be confined to that.
Then, Jonas recognises the story of Theseus and is able, in the light
of that, to explain a puzzle in the story as told. And in general, the
way the stories hang together is rather odd. Consider, say, the way it
is revealed in the last line of 'Frog' that the Naked One is also
called Squanto; it leaves you saying 'Where did that come from?' This
is explicable if it's a stitching-together of myths; less so if it's
either an account of real events or a new work of fiction.

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