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Impressions of Chapter 34 of The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolf
Reading from pages 199-202 of Shadow & Claw
The focus of this minor act in Severian’s story is the physical and audio beauty of Jolenta, the most beautiful woman in the world, who is graceless when not in repose, and is in fact the not very good-looking waitress from the morning’s breakfast, who has somehow been transformed by Dr. Talos. The Doctor seems to have some power of suggestion that can trigger changes of a transformative kind in people who agree to his treatments. Jolenta has been transformed into a cartoonish figure of lust inspiring womanhood, with no accompanying enhancement to her personality:
“Like every man who ever saw her I desired her but I wanted her as one wants a woman in a picture…”
Her gracelessness, newly come to her luscious form is off-putting and her beautiful face makes the man viewing her feel alone and her voice, while wonderful, strikes one like music.
The character of Jolenta, having made her devil’s bargain with the Doctor, seems a cautionary statement concerning the inevitability of altering human forms for celebrity and acceptance that has already reached the point of surgery in our own time that, but in Wolfe’s remote future has apparently taken the form of mesmerists manipulating the human mind to affect gross transformations.
Easy Chair and Other Stories: Humorous Reader Generated Fiction
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