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Wolfe's Book of the New Sun

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message 1: by toph (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:26PM) (new)

toph | 24 comments Ok, so I finally finished reading this, and I really loved it. But, I've read a lot of things about all the hidden meanings, unreliable narrator stuff and stuff that's hinted at that I feel like I've probably completely missed the point of a lot of the book. How about the people who have read it (and I know at least a few of you had) start up a conversation and help enlighten me a little bit.


message 2: by Ben (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:27PM) (new)

Ben (deadwolfbones) | 88 comments Mod
Well, okay... what do you feel like you've missed out on?


message 3: by toph (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:27PM) (new)

toph | 24 comments Probably a shit-ton of stuff. I don't know, I just keep seeing stuff about him being an unreliable narrator, and about all the clues that point to this, but I sure didn't catch any of that.

Also, for example, wikipedia lists the following things:

* Severian's home city of Nessus is actually a future Buenos Aires.
* The characters Agia and Agilus are Severian's cousins.
* Father Inire and Ossipago are not only the same character, but the offspring of Severian and one of the Hierodules.
* Wolfe's earlier book, The Fifth Head of Cerberus is in fact set in the same universe, and is a prequel to the Book of the New Sun, the Book of the Long Sun, and the successor Short Sun books.
* Severian's wife Valeria is his maternal grandmother.


I'm assuming this stuff isn't just guesswork, but where are they coming up with these conclusions? I figured some stuff out that I've seen mentioned, like the Citadel being an old spaceport, etc, but I'm sure I'm missing out on a lot of things.

And of course, the revelation that Severian's entire life has been watched-over and guided to get him to the point at the end of the book pretty much recontextualizes the whole story, but short of rereading it, I doubt I'll get much more out of that.

I don't know, just any discussion would be cool. Finishing it made me want to talk about it with someone, but I don't know a single person who has read the book except you guys.


edit: Also, it's possible that Urth of the New Sun will help with some of this too, as I haven't read it yet. It's on the shelf, but I sort of needed a break from the New Sun universe for a couple of weeks. I figured since it was written years after the original books it wouldn't be too big a deal to wait a while.


message 4: by Christian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:27PM) (new)

Christian | 8 comments The Buenos Aires theory seems tenuous. The one connection that I can recall is that the librarian = Borges.

I just finished 5th Head, so I am curious about its link with the Urth universe...


message 5: by Ben (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:36PM) (new)

Ben (deadwolfbones) | 88 comments Mod
Well, he also calls the area surrounding Nessus the "pampas," which is a term that specifically refers to the grassy South American plains, and particularly to the area around Buenos Aires.

As far as St. Anne & St. Croix existing in the Sun universe, the only thing I can think is that they are Blue & Green, and that the inhumi from Short Sun are the descendents of the shapeshifting aborigines from Fifth Head. Hence there being ruins on the planets before the Long Sun colonists get there, etc, and hence the ship's originator choosing them as its destination.

I think it's more likely, though, that Wolfe is just reusing themes.


message 6: by Ben (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:36PM) (new)

Ben (deadwolfbones) | 88 comments Mod
I was also working under the assumption that the mountains in the third book are the Andes.

The moment when you realize that in Severian's world people think of "mountains" as Mt. Rushmore-style statues and have probably never seen an un-carved mountain = pretty fucked up.


message 7: by toph (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:36PM) (new)

toph | 24 comments Yeah, that's definitely a pretty weird moment. It's one of the few times where I feel like Wolfe goes out of his way to mention it a number of times to drive the point home (this is before they climb the mountain, obviously).


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