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Making Myth: Narrative Discourse in The Shadow of the Torturer


  • Charles Simmons

Summary, in English

This dissertation argues that the incongruity between the narrating I and the narrated I in The Shadow of the Torturer produces a site where myth is made. The novel differs from other works in the canon of science fantasy because its science and fantasy are rarely, if ever, juxtaposed. Instead, I argue that whatever technological understandings the narrator obtains throughout their journey are reproduced as myth. Myth is treated as the fusion of scientific and fantastic worldviews. I focus on the events found in The Shadow of the Torturer while addressing other novels in Gene Wolfe’s greater Solar Cycle when relevant. The background section provides the reader with an historical overview of science fantasy’s two parent genres and identifies the basic features which define a work as either science fiction or fantasy. Also included in the background section is an introduction to Gerard Genette’s narratological concepts of mood and voice. The analysis section begins by looking at the peculiarities of Severian’s discourse through the lenses of these two concepts. Having thus established the way in which the novel’s narrative is constructed, the final section explores Severian’s mythic vision.


  • Master's Programme: Literature - Culture - Media

Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Master's degree (two years)


  • Languages and Literatures


  • Narratology Myth Science Fiction Fantasy Science Gene Wolfe Genette


  • Cian Duffy (Professor)