After the “Book of the New Sun”, Wolfe went on to write many other books, including the undeservedly obscure “Soldier of the Mist” and “Soldier of Arete“, historically rigorous novels of a wandering mercenary in Greece at the time of the wars recounted in Homer. The soldier, who is nameless, has the same brain problem that the Guy Pearce character had in “Memento”, and keeps track of events in the world by keeping a journal.
These books reawakened my interest in classical culture and led me to read a great deal more about Greek and Roman history, and in the end to a deep appreciation of the surviving Greek plays, literature, and philosophy. A year or two ago Viv and I saw a fantastic production of the Odyssey, as a play, which KICKED my ASS! I laughed, I cried: it was a gift from God. I certainly would never have been interested if not for these books.
]]>After that Wolfe wrote two connected series, “The Book of the Long Sun” and most recently, the just completed “Book of the Short Sun”. Both books are essentially about religion and writing, which is a predominant theme in the “Soldier” books as well. The “Long Sun” books are not as interesting, to me, as the “Short Sun” books. The “Short Sun” series approaches the “New Sun” series in psychological depth, and ties together all of the themes that emerged from Wolfe’s work in the wake of the “New Sun”.
Pulling these long marches through a single author’s work is an incredibly rewarding experience, if you’ve got the stamina. You begin to see though the tools and tricks the author uses, and after a time one begins to suspect you know something about the individual producing the work.
This is largely due to the re-use and re-examination in individual authors’ works of images, situations, and character types. It reminds me of listening to a musical performer over a span of years, coming to know their material, and learning to differentiate the ways in which their arrangements evolve over time.