Tuesday, November 28, 2017

In Which, as a Throwaway Notion in a Letter, the Origin of the Autarch's Social Role In THE BOOK OF THE NEW SUN Can Perhaps Be Found

And—though I pale to admit it—I have my vice. It is writing, and in everyday circles that is viewed a good deal more seriously than, say, pot probably is in yours. In short, your business is my besetting weakness; your business letters are my pornography; your shop talk my dissipation.

Which gives me a story idea. A nobleman, a pillar of the Jockey Club, who (on alternate Thursdays) creeps away from the Fabourg St. Germain to become (heh, heh!) a Montmarte used-lace merchant. Can't you just see him gloating fierce gloats as he speculates on Society's reaction to the news that he is secretly a petit commerçant? That's me except that I reverse it—I steal way to become a nobleman.

And you know what the petite bourgeoisie think of that.

— Letter from Gene Wolfe to Damon Knight, December 3, 1969
Reprinted in The Best From Orbit (1976), p. 337

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