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Does the mysogyny in Shadow & Claw relent?

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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 29, 2010 9:13:34 AM PDT
Jodi Levin says:
I'm up to the part where Severian becomes journeyman, and so far, one woman has been disinterred to be cannibalized, three tortured, and one imprisoned through no fault of her own--and not one man yet to be described in the torturer's cells. Women, though tortured, cannot be torturers because they are too cruel.

How are new guild members found? They are cut out of their pregnant mother's wombs. So far, there are a few women who are not tortured--there's the prostitutes that Severian and Drotte visit, and the concubines kept by the Autarch. Severian's passage into journeyman is marked by him beheading a maid--a ritual play, but disturbing.

I'm not sure I can read anymore. Does the violence against women ever relent?

Posted on Apr 29, 2010 10:38:50 AM PDT
T. Davenport says:
Yes, it does. Though sympathetic/heroic female characters remain thin on the ground throughout the whole series.

Posted on May 3, 2010 1:04:02 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 3, 2010 1:08:15 AM PDT
No, but:

1. Things will never get explicit, pornographic or exploitative the way they do in, for example, Terry Goodkind.

2. Things will definitely get more interesting. In fact, they are already more interesting than you may realize. (For example, the prostitutes that Severian and Drotte visit and the concubines kept by the Autarch are the exact same people.)

3. At least one additional woman will be dug up and eaten, and you don't want to miss that--or its consequences.

4. At least two women will be brought back from the dead.

5. Severian won't always stay male.

6. Wait till you meet his mother and his grandmother.

And so on.

"The Book of the New Sun" is, in many respects, extraordinarily sick and twisted. It is also the greatest work of science fiction ever written. It's worth reading even if you hate it, perhaps especially so. Some of its biggest fans are people who violently disagree with it. Like me.

Posted on Jun 11, 2010 5:10:16 PM PDT
You Must Read On. Sure, the decadent world of the far future has its misogynous moments, but the world's a harsh place, yes? Point is, it's a description of the dying (and decadent) Urth. It's also the best fiction ever written in the English language. Severian is the product of his Urth, and you can't trust his narrative. Wolfe is a genius, and it shows in this series, as it does in the Fifth Head of Cerberus. Others, less so, but Peace and Free Live Free are up there, somewhere, flying around in a bloated spruce monstrosity.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 12, 2010 3:31:16 PM PDT
And unfortunately, through the genre. I just re-read Mike Resnik's Santiago, which I would put on this list, by the way. It suffers from the same difficulty of shallow female characterization combined with victimization.

Can anybody recommend another list that considers these issues?

Posted on Sep 23, 2010 11:59:53 AM PDT
Dead says:
Well, Wolfe is Catholic after all. So the misogyny should come as no surprise.

When you combine that narrow worldview with a genre already notorious for a skewed depiction of female characters the results can be pretty tiresome. It's unfortunate that so much of what has become renowned as "classic" in science fiction has been written by total nutjobs like Wolfe or Orson Scott Card.

Posted on Sep 26, 2010 11:51:48 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 26, 2010 11:52:27 PM PDT
J. Tate says:
I found it very difficult to get through some parts like the breakdown of Jolenta's various augmentations, Thecla's tortures, etc, but this is my second time reading it and I'm enjoying it a lot more (and I'm also noticing even more to violently disagree with). Its a difficult work that definitely needs more than one reading to take it all in, but I hope you do finish it at least.

Maybe in a few years try to read it again and see how you feel about it. I started reading Wolfe off a recommendation by Neil Gaiman in one of the various SciFi anthology magazines and that may have been the only reason why I kept reading through the book the first time around.

@Dead - don't knock the man by his adopted religion. It makes you sound narrow minded ;)

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 29, 2010 1:28:55 AM PDT
MJN76 says:
Ironic that you would refer to anything as "narrow minded" when you make comical statements like "Wolfe is Catholic after all. So the misogyny should come as no surprise." Take your bigotry and assumptions elsewhere.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 30, 2012 6:04:56 PM PDT
Vales Tales says:
@MJN76 I realize this comment is 2 years old, but nevertheless:

I think you have mixed up J.Tate's common @Dead "Don't knock the man by his adopted religion. It makes you sound narrow minded" with Dead's comment (which does indeed sound narrow-minded - hence J. Tate's point) about the "misogyny" and "_narrow_ world view" of Catholicism. And then heaping upon that, that science fiction and fantasy is "notorious" for its "skewed depiction of female characters".

Just for clarity's sake. And to those who dismiss Wolfe (or Orson Scott Card, or Cordwainer Smith, of blessed memory, or CS Lewis) for their "narrow world views", where does that leave those of us who admire them who are not Christians, including such giants as Harlan Ellison, Neil Gaiman, etc.?
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Initial post:  Apr 29, 2010
Latest post:  Aug 30, 2012

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