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Attending DaedalusGene Wolfe, Artifice and the Reader$
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Peter Wright

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780853238188

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9780853238188.001.0001

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‘Trip, Trap’: Psychology and Thematic Coherence

‘Trip, Trap’: Psychology and Thematic Coherence

(p.23) 2. ‘Trip, Trap’: Psychology and Thematic Coherence
Attending Daedalus

Peter Wright


This chapter examines in detail the thematic preoccupations of Wolfe's fiction published between 1966 and 1984 in order to substantiate claims in subsequent chapters that challenge extant critical opinions of The Urth Cycle. Focusing on a range of short stories and novels, the chapter identifies several interrelated psychological phenomena that are significant to a deeper understanding Wolfe's work. These phenomena include: the subjective perception of ontological reality; the reconstruction of perceived reality from memory; the psychological manipulation of the individual within economic, political and spiritual systems; the relationship between internal fantasy and external reality; and the psychological potency of myth, faith and symbolism. It notes that, for Wolfe, life is an ambiguous round of perceptions and misperceptions in which the individual must struggle, and ultimately fail, to apprehend the precise nature of existence. The chapter concludes by arguing that although the literary importance of Wolfe's fiction may appear to derive from the thematic integrity by which this perspective is communicated, its significance lies more in Wolfe's ability to make the reader experience this conception of existence through the reading process.

Keywords:   Gene Wolfe, Urth Cycle, Psychology, Memory, Subjectivity, Reality, Manipulation, Theme, Reader, Reading

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