My Epic Summer Reading: Gene Wolfe’s “The Book of the New Sun”

The cover art does not match these superb literary SF novels.

This summer I set out to reread Gene Wolfe’s critically-acclaimed science fantasy quartet, The Book of the New Sun (1,125-pages).  It was a rewarding experience, though near the end it became a bit of a struggle. In June and July I was mesmerized by The Shadow of the Torturer, The Claw of the Conciliator, and The Sword of the Lictor, but only recently finished the fourth, The Citadel of the Autarch:  I got bogged down in a never-ending tale-telling contest – never my favorite literary device.
Critics often compare The Book of the New Sun to James Joyce’s Ulysses.  Wolfe, like Joyce, was a polymath and had a colossal vocabulary, but the literary comparison seems superficial. Wolfe’s psychedelic prose owes more to New Wave SF writers like Samuel R. Delany (I thought of Dhalgren). And in terms of the fantasy genre,  I see the influence of George MacDonald’s surreal Phantastes and J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

You can read the rest at Thornfield Hall Redux:

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