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‘Without You, Where Are Their Nightmares’
Impressions of Chapter 30 of Gene Wolfe’s Shadow of the Torturer
Reading from pages 179-183 of Shadow & Claw
Night
Dressed in his night black cloak among the shadows of the scaffold, Severian entertains the morbid, those who come to see executions with a special lust. The author’s treatment of this subject is highly accurate in terms of historical practices, as English folk and Americans would even bring the sick and the children to gain some benefit from the life powers unleashed during executions in early modern times. However, Wolfe’s version of capital punishment and torture in the far future is much less grossly brutal than that of early modern times, which was positively medieval.
“All of the stirred me to pity even as they revolted me; but one man most of all…”
This feral intellect of some sort has suffered the loss of some companion and has come to plea in searing poetics for retribution upon the guilty for nearly a page of monologue, with a few excerpts below:
“…Work your will upon the guilty. Where was their mercy on the innocent? …What kind of men could do as they have done—thieves, false friends, betrayers, bad shipmates, no shipmates, murderers and kidnappers. W-without you, where are their nightmares…”
Back in the storeroom he and Dorcas, who has professed her love for him, discuss his stress over his upcoming performance and she has the more salient insight:
“If we could have our way, no man would have to go roving or draw blood. But women did not make the world. All of you are torturers, one way or another.”
Diction of note
-propinquity
-paracoita
-asters,
-scopolagna
Night City: The Short Fiction of James LaFond: 2015-16
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