(urth) completed version - Donaldson, Moorcock etc

Craig Brewer cnbrewer at yahoo.com
Tue Aug 9 18:38:15 PDT 2011

And Moorcock's also said on many occasions that the Elric stories were exercises in a kind of pastiche of reversals. Recognizing elements that are lifted from other works and then used in certain generically deliberate and/or artificial ways isn't so much recognizing plaigiarisim as intention.

The fact that they've become his most famous books is something of a disappointment to him in some of his interviews, too (despite the fact that he keeps writing them...we all gotta eat, I guess). And they do read better when you think of them as quickly written thought experiments rather than "epic fantasy." In the end, he's kind of, "Hey, what if Conan was smart, over-cultured, and weak but had the same adventures?" At a certain point, the premise plays itself out, but I still enjoy the premise for what it was.

And I'm with the others that his literary merit is MUCH better judged according to the Cornelius books. The End of Time series is my personal favorite.

On Aug 9, 2011, at 11:55 AM, Sergei SOLOVIEV <soloviev at irit.fr> wrote:

> Gerry Quinn wrote:
>> ----- Original Message -----
>>> - Master torturer in Elric story - hybrid of torture device
>>> from "In the penal colony" by Kafka:
>>>> an elaborate torture and
>>> execution device that carves the sentence of the condemned prisoner on his
>>> skin in a script before letting him die (Wiki)
>> Wolfe also pinched that idea!  It is one of the devices shown by Gurloes to Thecla before her excruciation, though he mentions that it does not work.
>> - Gerry Quinn
> Exactly! And look how Wolfe uses it. In his book it is part of "historical lecture" by Gurloes, so,
> it is a token of immense depth of time. It is woven into the subtle fabrics of references
> to our own time, like the photograph of lunar landing (or maybe its painted copy) cleaned by
> Rudesund, like the Pope's translation of Homer  used in Chrasmologic writings and many
> others. (Notice also that the machine breaks in the end of Kafka's story, and Gurloes says
> it does not work.) The meanings and references play beautifully.
> And if we take Moorcock, the use is quite the opposite. He takes a rich deep story and "flattens"
> it to suit in some very straightforward way his purposes. So his torturer is just a sadist, and he
> borrows the image, using only the idea of extreme cruelty.
> It comes to my mind to compare three torturers: Gurloes (complex man who tries to look
> simple brute) - by Wolfe; Nolieti in the Inversions by Banks who is a real brute but his
> brutishness is described with great skill by Banks, so he has interesting human dimension
> (he tries to use the teeth of his victims as his own prostheses) and the main hero Vosill
> even tries to negotiate with him because she cannot believe that he may be truly so brutish;
> and Dr. Jest of Moorcock borrowed from other contexts and transformed into one-dimensional
> sadist. I think the Wolfe's is the best on literary scale and Moorcock's the worst (no talent,
> no imagination and even no honest references to the sources).
> Another example (I have forgotten to mention it) is that Arioch is borrowed from
> "The Lord of the Flies" by Golding (he comes as a fly to Elric) and
> the whole tradition concerning Beelzebub, and again flattened very much
> (though at least he is not one-dimensional character).
> I still had no time to analyse Donaldson.
> Best
> Sergei Soloviev
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