* * * SPOILER WARNING * * *
The following thoughts about Wolfe's novel Peace were posted
to the Urth mailing list
April 17, 1998. I've made minor revisions, but thought other
readers of Peace might find them interesting. I really like
Peace, and enjoyed
the change of pace from the more "pure" SF storytelling Wolfe uses more
frequently. I always recommend Peace as a novel that you might
try to get your lit-crit SF-avoiding friends to read.
The final story of the geese seems to be crucial for making sense of
Peace. As Adam Stephanides already said
Weer is the one who has
dwindled. But if Christian Baptism is the only hope for Weer in the
novel, one might ask where else is this intimated and does Weer ever
receive it, or possibly demonstrate the "baptism of desire".
Some thoughts, since I just finished reading Peace and had a small book
club discussion on it.
I realize that there's not much coherence in these observations. Maybe
someone else can piece these together.
- The Book of Gold in Peace are the books of Mr. Gold, including one
that has a greek name that translates "The Book that Binds the Dead". In
other words, the Necronomicon, fitting right in with Cultes
which was purchased for a small Massachusetts university library
(Miskatonic). Weer himself may be similarly writing a "Book that Binds
the Dead" as he passes through so many stories of his own life and tells
his own ghoulish ghost stories along the way.
(Another Lovecraftian nod is found on p.6 of the Orb trade paperback,
where in a brilliant musing on the potential for other racial
stereotypes Wolfe writes:
the bland chance of the scientists (whose blind,
piping ape-god, idiot god, we have met before; we
know you, troubler of Babylon)
which seems to bear more than a passing resemblance to Azathoth.)
- The Necronomicon is a "fake", though described by Lovecraft,
Gold has brought it into existance and in a few hundred years there will
be thousands of copies. This is the actual case with the "Necronomicon";
various occult weirdos have made facsimiles and mockups, and you can
buy them in bookstores.
- Weer's old childhood home has been converted into a library,
filled with books. But significantly, the library purchases
the fake diary of Kate. This purchase generates the interest in
searching for the buried treasure, which creates a rift in the developing
relationship between Weer and the librarian (when she pulls a gun on
- Following this idea, Weer is searching through the memories of his
house and calling up stories. But, are the stories true or false? Are they
beneficial, or harmful, leading to similar ill-fated relationships?
- Weer's "true love", Margret Lorn, find the Resurrection Egg after
running through the rain to the farmhouse. If anything this might
qualify for a baptismal scene which will save Weer from his indulgent
self-referential memory trip.
Also of note is his meal of donuts and tea with sugar,
which Maggie slips him under the table.
What of the Egg? It contains scenes of the 'less dramatic elements of
the resurrection narrative. One of which (breakfast on the shore) is the
story of Peter's restoration after his betrayal, also relevant for
The Egg as art-object though causes no end of trouble as Macafee and
Olivia scheme to get each other to give it to them in return for
- What's with the memos and such nailed to Weer's desk?
- The general themes of inheritance and carrying on into the future
are all over. The town will revert to the indians. The women play at
being indians. Olivia is concerned with how archaeologists will perceive
her breeding project. Weer considers himself the last human being and
feels as if an archaeologists spade is digging up his skull. Gold "salts"
the future with fake books. Weer leads the plant tour in reverse, going
from final product, up the conveyor belt, into the processing plant.
Comments to: Paul Duggan
All contents except cover reproductions
copyright © 1998, 2000 Paul Duggan
Published to Web September 26, 2000.