The Knight

Gene Wolfe
The Knight Cover

The Knight: on Wolfe's reactionary politics?



The Knight has a pompous title, and Wolfe makes pompous claims to Truth - as fathers of boomers might make. Part of The Knight's appeal indeed is the Romantic idea of an heroic past that never existed. Lots of boys want to be the unacknowledged son of the king - as Richard Rorty once said. And there surely is no shame in enjoying well made stories like this as a grown-up.

There might even be value in stories like this to teach children the value of honesty or compassion - even though I would not want my children to take Sir Able of the High Heart as an example - quarrelsome, reckless, violent, and morally inconsistent as he is in this first part. Able makes lots of promises he doesn't keep. I hope Sir Able - and with him Wolfe - will redeem himself in book two, that allegedly focuses on the Bildung of wisdom indeed.

Entertainment or boyish guilty pleasures notwithstanding, with adult wisdom, and an honest acknowledgement of the plethora of human atrocities committed in the name of God, Truth or the King, we have to acknowledge it for what it is, this idea of an heroic past that Wolfe perpetuates - to his defense, like so many others do. It is an honest, misguided dream maybe, a naive longing for something that never was.

There's truth in names, sometimes: it will forever be a Fantasy.

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