I just went through your podcast, where you guys discussed themes of freedom & slavery at depth. Subsequently I have been reading Brothers Karamazov & War with Newts, while reading The Fifth head of Cerberus. I think you guys had a discussion about faith when reading second novella - A Story, and in it you had mentioned Brothers Karamazov.
But the theme of patricide in Brothers Karamazov resonates so much with The Fifth Head Of Cerberus, we also have one time Ivan saying to Alyosha , regarding the feud between his father and his brother Dmitri, that one reptile, will devour another reptile, isn't the same thing happening in the first novella ?
Another fascinating resemblance between both the books is the poem The Grand Inquisitor, which Ivan recites to Alyosha, this poem is a master piece, and it questions faith,freedom and free will which has been given to humans as a whole, and do they really deserve it.
Below is an excerpt of the poem taken from Wikipedia
The tale is told by Ivan with brief interruptive questions by Alyosha. In the tale, Christ comes back to Earth in Seville at the time of the Inquisition. He performs a number of miracles (echoing miracles from the Gospels). The people recognize him and adore him at the Seville Cathedral, but he is arrested by Inquisition leaders and sentenced to be burnt to death the next day. The Grand Inquisitor visits him in his cell to tell him that the Church no longer needs him. The main portion of the text is devoted to the Inquisitor explaining to Jesus why his return would interfere with the mission of the Church.
The Inquisitor founds his denunciation of Jesus on the three questions that Satan asked Jesus during the temptation of Christ in the desert. These three are the temptation to turn stones into bread, the temptation to cast Himself from the Temple and be saved by the angels, and the temptation to rule over all the kingdoms of the world. The Inquisitor states that Jesus rejected these three temptations in favor of freedom, but the Inquisitor thinks that Jesus has misjudged human nature. He does not believe that the vast majority of humanity can handle the freedom which Jesus has given them. The Inquisitor thus implies that Jesus, in giving humans freedom to choose, has excluded the majority of humanity from redemption and doomed it to suffer.
Despite declaring the Inquisitor to be a nonbeliever, Ivan also has the Inquisitor saying that the Catholic Church follows "the wise spirit, the dread spirit of death and destruction." He says: "We are not with Thee, but with him, and that is our secret! For centuries have we abandoned Thee to follow him." For he, through compulsion, provided the tools to end all human suffering and for humanity to unite under the banner of the Church. The multitude then is guided through the Church by the few who are strong enough to take on the burden of freedom. The Inquisitor says that under him, all mankind will live and die happily in ignorance. Though he leads them only to "death and destruction", they will be happy along the way. The Inquisitor will be a self-martyr, spending his life to keep choice from humanity. He states that "anyone who can appease a man's conscience can take his freedom away from him".
The Inquisitor advances this argument by explaining why Christ was wrong to reject each temptation by Satan. Christ should have turned stones into bread, as men will always follow those who will feed their bellies. The Inquisitor recalls how Christ rejected this, saying "man cannot live on bread alone", and explains to Christ: "Feed men, and then ask of them virtue! That's what they'll write on the banner they'll raise against Thee and with which they will destroy Thy temple. Where Thy temple stood will rise a new building; the terrible tower of Babel will be built again, and though, like the one of old, it will not be finished". Casting himself down from the temple to be caught by angels would cement his godhood in the minds of people, who would follow him forever. Ruling over all the kingdoms of the Earth would ensure their salvation, the Grand Inquisitor claims.
The segment ends when Christ, who has been silent throughout, kisses the Inquisitor on his "bloodless, aged lips" instead of answering him. On this, the Inquisitor releases Christ but tells him never to return. Christ, still silent, leaves into "the dark alleys of the city". Not only is the kiss ambiguous, but its effect on the Inquisitor is as well. Ivan concludes: "The kiss burns in his heart, but the old man adheres to his idea".
So what the inquisitor is aiming is that he questions Christ in giving humanity freedom & free will, because humans by nature are rebellious and can never be happy, and they don't have the capacity to appreciate their freedom, and they will trade their freedom at once for bread.
Also freedom leads to misery because due to freedom & free will people start believing in all sorts of things, and they end up fighting with each other, to establish the superiority of their ideas.
So the inquisitor has done away with freedom of the individuals by mystery,miracle & authority, has made them truly happy, so although now all of them are kind of slaves, but it is really him who carries the burden of their freedom.
Isn't this the crux of Constant's argument ? Also Saint Croix government is literally ruling it's masses with iron glove of authority.
So in sense isn't this the Saint Croix government the realization of the vision of The Grand Inquisitor?
This is fantastic! These are, indeed, many of the same issues that Wolfe is dealing with here and in the same setting. You've certainly inspired me to read The Brothers K again -- especially before we get to The Book of the New Sun.