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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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‘The Toy Theatre’: Uncovering the Story of the Urth Cycle1

‘The Toy Theatre’: Uncovering the Story of the Urth Cycle1

(p.69) 5. ‘The Toy Theatre’: Uncovering the Story of the Urth Cycle1
Attending Daedalus

Peter Wright


In this chapter, the hitherto undiscovered story of The Urth Cycle is revealed. Breaking with all current thinking on The Book of the New Sun and The Urth of the New Sun, the chapter argues that The Urth Cycle is a secular rather than a religious text. Accordingly, it sees the novels presenting a human race caught in two complex processes: that of an external cosmological conspiracy masterminded by the alien Hierogrammates who are intent on securing their own evolution across time, and that of its own psychological need for lenitive myths. As such, it offers an entirely materialist reading of The Urth Cycle that draws on evolutionary biology, particularly Richard Dawkins’ concept of the selfish gene. The chapter analyses The Urth Cycle's use of theatrical metaphors, its preoccupation with mythopoesis, and the potential mythmaking has for the process of psychological sublimation. It exposes the cosmological structure of Wolfe's fictional universe and argues that, around this systemic ‘whole’, Wolfe constructs his interpretative game with the reader.

Keywords:   Gene Wolfe, Urth Cycle, Secular, Spiritual, Manipulation, Selfish Gene, Evolutionary biology, Richard Dawkins, Cosmology, Hierogrammates

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