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‘The Fearful Song’
Impressions of Chapter 11 of Gene Wolfe’s Shadow of the Torturer
© 2019 James LaFond
MAR/19/19
Reading from pages 73-77 of Shadow & Claw
The Feast
“The day of or patroness falls in the fading of winter.”
Severian’s coming of age in a ceremony made the more gruesome due to it’s gaudiness is highlighted by the making of flower petal paths on which the masters walk, obliterating beauty as they pass, recalling the sacred sand paintings of the Navaho. The fact that execution is a stage art, come to the fore in his mock beheading of a maiden, holds implications for the compassionate torture—the ultimate imposter on the stage of Life.
As with many coming of age ceremonies the subject, in this case the freshly minted executioner, is encouraged to get intoxicated to the point of illness. As he recovers from his ritual passage in his cell he is treated with a vision:
“My door was opened a trifle and Master Malrubius looked in as though to make certain I was all right. I waved to him and he shut the door again. It was some time before I recalled that he had died when I was still a boy.”
Diction of note
-rebec, musical instrument
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