Peace

Publication(s)

Peace 2012 Reissue Cover
2012 Orb edition
Peace Paperback Cover
1995 Orb edition
  • First publication, Harper & Row, 1975
  • First mass market edition, Berkley Books, 1982
  • UK first paperback, Chatto & Windus, 1985
  • Paperback, Orb, 1995; jacket painting by Tony Roberts
    • The Orb edition is a facsimile of the original Harper & Row edition.
  • Paperback, Second Orb edition, 2012; includes afterword by Neil Gaiman

Analysis

Summary

Complete plot summary -- SPOILERS

Comments

  • Sources of quotes
    • "... strange oaths. What is a wabe?": "strange oaths" from "All the world's a stage..." soliloquy, As You Like It, Shakespeare; "wabe" from Jabberwocky, Lewis Carroll.
    • "The nine menís Morris is fill'd up with mud Ö" near the end of Part 1. From Midsummer Nightís Dream, Act II, Scene 1, Shakespeare.
    • "The south wind doth blow/so we shan't have snow." Nursery rhyme "The north wind doth blow ..."
    • In the story of the marid and his slave, the poem "Time gars me tremble ..." is from the "Third Kalandar's Tale" in Richard Burton's translation of the Arabian Nights; "And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say," is a repeated phrase from the same translation.
    • The poem "Liddle Orphan Annie" recited by Gold is James Whitcomb Riley's poem "Little Orphant Annie," except the spelling that originally reflected Indiana dialect pronunciation has been changed to reflect a German accent.
  • Meanings of names
    • Some meanings of names in the interpolated stories are given on the pages for these stories.
    • Wolfe has stated in an interview (Thrust #19, Winter/Spring 1983) that "Weer" is derived from "wer", which means "man". It also translates as "again" in Dutch.
    • Robert Borski has pointed out that Alden Weer's middle name is "sinned" spelled backwards.
  • References to other works
    • "rose-red ruins of Chicago and Indianapolis" in Section 1: This is a reference to the sonnet Petra by John William Burgon.
    • "troglodytes ... known to Montesquieu" in Section 2: This is a reference to Persian Letters, Montesquieu, letters 11--14.
    • "more enthusiastically than ... Titania's votaress," in the story of The Princess in the Tower: reference to Midsummer Night's Dream, Act II, Scene 1, Shakespeare.
  • Self-references
    • Alden's profession as a plant engineer (prior to taking over the plant) mirrors Wolfe's work at Proctor & Gamble. Wolfe also edited the journal Plant Engineering for many years before becoming a full-time writer.
    • There are several places where Wolfe seems to be making oblique comments on the difficulty of deciphering the deeper layers of meaning in this work.
      • "There is (as a matter of fact) a whole pile of Lifes before me, and I play the old game of trying to arrange them chronologically without looking at the dates, and lose."
      • "I meant to make a joke. For myself. I'm afraid I do that often--I don't expect the people I'm talking to to understand them and they seldom do."
      • "the artist's rendering of Jesus and the apostles as Chinese philosophers ... and his running together the various scenes ... resulted in a confusion that, though charming, was nearly impenetrable."

Interpretations

  • spoiler.
  • With its "museum rooms," Weer's house resembles the "memory palace" of classical and medieval mnemonics, as well as the "chains I forged in life" worn by Jacob Marley: it contains Weer's memories of his life, and appears also to confine him in them.
  • According to most interpretations, Peace and Transparent Things both have time-traveling (of sorts) ghosts as narrators.

Unresolved Questions

Blurbs

  • From the Chatto & Windus edition:
    It may not be as easy to hold down the dead as we think. Lonely, old and crippled, Alden Dennis Weer wanders through the corridors of his life, summoning up the strange and the eery.
    This sinister tale of quiet damnation and possible redemption is an early masterpiece by one of today's most important authors of SF and Fantasy; Peace is now available in the UK for the first time.
    GENE WOLFE was born in 1931. His novels and collections of short stories include The Fifth Head of Cerberus, The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories, and the four-volume Book of the New Sun. A winner of two Nebula Awards, Gene Wolfe lives in Barrington, Illinois.
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