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Lexicon Urthus by Michael Andre-Driussi

Lexicon Urthus (1994)

by Michael Andre-Driussi

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This book was rather disappointing, both in its low quality of writing and in its spurious copy-and-paste scholarship. Save yourself some money and buy an english-latin dictionary instead. ( )
  atticusjame6 | Dec 23, 2008 |
This book is a collector's item, meaningful only to fanatical readers of Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun. For those readers, it's an amazing resource. ( )
  meeisenberg | Aug 13, 2008 |
Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun is one of the masterpieces of literary speculative fiction. Wolfe's language is esoteric and allusive; he does not make up new words, but uses many unfamiliar words to give his work a flavor of strangeness. The names that he uses for people and places are also full of meaning and suggestion. The careful reader will find that taking the time to ponder Wolfe's referents will enrich the story and suggest clues to some of its mysteries. However, a thorough review of Wolfe's language is a significant bit of work, and even those readers willing to put forth the effort might not have the necessary resources at hand.

The first edition of Michael Andre-Driussi's Lexicon Urthus, published in 1994, was a wonderful contribution to the work of understanding what Wolfe is up to. The author compiled a list of unfamiliar terms, as well as the names of people and places, and provided definitions and possible sources, with illustrations of numerous terms to augment the text. This work received much attention from hard-core Wolfe devotees, many of whom wrote to the author with questions, suggestions, and corrections. Many of these issues were addressed in several small follow-up booklets, ranging from 18 to 30 pages. Wolfe scholarship has continued, with critics including Peter Wright and Robert Borski publishing book-length studies of his work, particularly The Book of the New Sun. Active and impressively well informed discussions of Wolfe's work continue on the internet. The initial Lexicon Urthus, published in small quantities, is a collector's item drawing bids in the hundreds of dollars on auction sites.

Mr. Andre-Driussi has now published an updated version of the lexicon. The second edition is expanded to include more entries and more lengthy treatments of key subjects. The author has incorporated the contents of the booklets and gleaned nuggets from internet discussions, the work of other critics, and his own further investigations. Expanded topics include those describing Severian and other key characters, the history of Urth, the contents of the books referred to in the Book, and other subjects. An appendix provides a one-sentence-per-chapter summary of the action of the Book, which gives a view of the flow of events but of course does not provide the richness of the story and of Wolfe's telling of it.

This work is a great resource for serious students or ardent fans of Wolfe's work, those who are willing to put in some time and effort to better understand what Wolfe is up to. Mr. Andre-Driussi has performed the valuable task of combing through many different sources to bring together an impressive array of reference information, enabling us to appreciate Wolfe's masterpiece without having to amass an entire library in order to do so. ( )
6 vote Jim53 | Aug 7, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0964279517, Paperback)

Lexicon Urthus is an alphabetical dictionary for the complete Urth Cycle by Gene Wolfe: The Shadow of the Torturer; The Claw of the Conciliator; The Sword of the Lictor; The Citadel of the Autarch; the sequel Urth of the New Sun; the novella Empires of Foliage and Flower; the short stories "The Cat," "The Map," and "The Old Woman Whose Rolling Pin Is the Sun"; and Gene Wolfe's own commentaries in The Castle of the Otter. The first edition was nominated for a World Fantasy Award. This second edition, available for the first time in paperback, includes 300 new entries. When the first edition was published, Science Fiction Age said: "Lexicon Urthus makes a perfect gift for any fan of [Wolfe's] work, and from the way his words sell, it appears that there are many deserving readers out there waiting." Gary K. Wolfe, in Locus, said: "A convenient and well researched glossary of names and terms. . . . It provides enough of a gloss on the novels that it almost evokes Wolfe's distant future all by itself. . . . It can provide both a useful reference and a good deal of fun." Donald Keller said, in the New York Review of Science Fiction: "A fruitful product of obsession, this is a thorough . . . dictionary of the Urth Cycle. . . . Andre-Driussi's research has been exhaustive, and he has discovered many fascinating things . . . [it is] head-spinning to confront a myriad of small and large details, some merely interesting, others jawdropping."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:50 -0400)

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