Dec 22, 2021
In Gene Wolfe
Following up the discussion on Julius Smart's story, and interpretations of the location. I was surprised to hear you mention Julius as a Christ figure, since he reads to me as much more diabolical. "Well, I won't tell you where it was I ended up, because everbody around here has the wrong ideas about that place. Let me just say that it was pretty far down South..." While the lack of specificity is superficially tied to negative stereotypes midwestern Americans might have about southerners, I think its real purposes is to highlight Smart descending to strike a Faustian bargain with Mr. Tilly. Smart mentions in the same paragraph that "It was hot there most all the time, and the ground so sandy it seemed like it was almost ready to move around..." The hot part is self-explanatory, but the sand might refer to the Burning Plain in Dante's seventh circle. Reducing Cassionville's independent farms to a potato monoculture, and the town to a single-industry factory town churning out artificial orange powder, certainly seems like it might qualify as a 'sin of sterility'.