Soldier of the Mist

I’ve finally gotten around to Gene Wolfe’s Latro novels, being in the middle of the first one, Soldier of the Mist. For those who don’t know, the novel is set in Greece, 479 B.C. The narration is actually the journal of a Roman soldier (Latro) who suffers from a bad case of short-term memory loss, but who also has the ability to see the gods.

So yes, Wolfe’s characteristic love of unreliable narrators is present here. It’s clever to have Latro be constantly rereading and interpreting the very same text that we are reading; the narrator and reader are epistemically on the same page.

The ancient pagan world was in many ways cruel and barbaric, but they had a leg up on the post-Christian culture in one respect: these people viewed themselves as being part of a transcendent order, and as being shaped and defined by certain narratives. Latro is a tad bit like modern man: a blank slate freed from any narrative. He enjoys a certain sort of autonomy from the past that the other characters don’t, but at a terrible price.

About Josh W

Scribbler and doodler
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