Gene (Rodman) Wolfe Peter Nicholls - Essay

Peter Nicholls

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun is masterly. In the swampy landscape of the 20th-century fantastic epic, it towers solidly like a mountain….

It is rather difficult to say exactly what sort of novel The Book of the New Sun is, for Wolfe has quietly and without any fuss invented a new literary form, the continuously recursive picaresque. He has done for picaresque fantasy very much what Escher did for architectural drawing. Just as in an Escher picture, what seems at first to be a wall appears after the onlooker blinks to be a roof or a floor, while downhill stairways mount ever higher, so in Wolfe the surface elements of the picaresque (the hero sets out on a quest and has a...

(The entire section is 412 words.)