Mike’s Prattle


Gene Wolfe

Posted by Mike on February 27, 2006

I’m thoroughly amazed it’s taken me over 5 years to finally get to the last “book” of the New Sun, but now that I’m into Citadel of the Autarch, I’m almost glad I waited, just so I could be a little older and more appreciative. I generally feel there’s too much out there to read anything twice, but I am pretty sure I will be going back to these, maybe after I read some more of his stuff. This is from chapter VIII  The Pelerine in Citadel. The priestess is speaking to Severian:

     “Every person, you see, is like a plant. There is a beautiful green part, often with flowers or fruit, that grows upward toward the sun, toward the Increate. There is also a dark part that grows away from it, tunneling where no light comes.”

     I said, “I have never studied the writings of the initiates, but even I am aware of the existence of good and evil in everyone.”

     “Was I speaking of good and evil? It is the roots that give the plant the strength to climb toward the sun, though they know nothing of it. Suppose that some scythe, whistling along the ground, should sever the stalk from its roots. The stalk would fall and die, but the roots might put up a new stalk.”

 “You are saying that evil is good.”

“No. I am saying that the things we love in others and admire in ourselves spring from things we do not see and seldom think about…”

Why Wolfe isn’t spoken of with the literary giants is a question up there with “Are we alone in the universe?” Beyond the prose itself, of which much praise has been lauded upon, it’s just the initiatic spirit thoroughly realized through the character, a depth and bit of realism that give a unique and vibrant character to all of his scenes.

Trying to finish 18 books before starting on anything is difficult, but this is one that won’t be a chore.


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