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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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‘In the House of Gingerbread’: Interpretative Games and the Psychology of Reader Response

‘In the House of Gingerbread’: Interpretative Games and the Psychology of Reader Response

Chapter:
(p.37) 3. ‘In the House of Gingerbread’: Interpretative Games and the Psychology of Reader Response
Source:
Attending Daedalus
Author(s):

Peter Wright

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/liverpool/9780853238188.003.0003

Exploring the interpretative game Wolfe plays with the reader, this chapter highlights the potential difficulties that such a game may pose for the critic. In so doing, it argues that Wolfe makes a concerted effort to establish parallels between the reader's reception of his work and the trials of his misguided, manipulated protagonists. In essence, it indicates how Wolfe extends his thematic preoccupations into his texts’ hermeneutic circles. It draws attention to how Wolfe compels the reader to experience his particular conception of existence by utilizing, either singly or in combination, four key strategies: the employment of unreliable first-person narrators, the introduction of ambiguity and ellipsis, the inclusion of an often dense intertextuality, and the subversion or hybridisation of familiar generic conventions. The chapter observes that such literary games-playing has fostered consistent misreadings of The Urth Cycle. It concludes by arguing that The Book of the New Sun and The Urth of the New Sun can be productively reassessed in the context of the recurrent themes characterising Wolfe's oeuvre.

Keywords:   Gene Wolfe, Urth Cycle, Unreliable Narrator, Ambiguity, Intertexuality, Generic Conventions, Genre, Hybridisation, Subversion

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