Tuesday, June 2, 2009

If you wish to walk no farther with me, reader, I do not blame you

Gene Wolfe - The Book of the New Sun, Volume I (Gollanz Fantasy Masterworks)I tried to read the first volume of Gene Wolfe's collected The Book of the New Sun two years ago. I thought I had the book under control. There's a torturer who is expelled from his guild for showing mercy to a client, and is sent to work as an executioner in a remote city. On the way he meets some people and .. then he starts walking in a Botanical Garden where space and time is warped in confusing ways, and this goes on and on, and .. I just fell off. Full stop.

I always knew the fault was in me and not the book. Wolfe's The Fifth Head of Cerberus was no less strange, but it paid off. Also, I didn't know how to read back then. Less demanding books distracted me. Wolfe requires attention, and on this second attempt I was prepared to give it to him.

This determination allowed me, this time, to appreciate The Book of the New Sun for what it is: One of the great works of fantasy, a surreal play on myth and symbolism.

I still don't know what's going on, though. I recognize motifs, echoes. When I've finished the series I'll dig into it deeper, and see what order there may be beneath the chaos, but I don't need there to be one. A mesmerizing enigma is valuable for its own sake.



At 04 June, 2009 22:39 , Anonymous KEE said...

I've only read "Free live free" by Wolfe, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. Perhaps time to check out this title as well.
Link to amazon page of Free live free: http://www.amazon.com/Free-Live-Gene-Wolfe/dp/0312868367/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1244147821&sr=8-1#reader


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