Friday, 14 October 2016

Inner And Outer Narrators

In Poul Anderson's "The Problem of Pain," the outer first person narrator converses with Peter Berg who then tells his story. However, Berg's story is narrated in the third person although from his pov, e.g.:

"Pete thought: Well, many faiths, including high ones, including some sects which call themselves Christian, deny immortality."
-Poul Anderson, "The Problem of Pain" IN Anderson, The Technic Civilization Saga: The Van Rijn Method, compiled by Hank Davis (New York, 2009), pp. 103-134 AT p. 122.

Berg is a Christian from Aeneas and we know from The Day Of Their Return, published in the same year, 1973, that Aeneans are intensely religious although in different ways.

In Anderson's "Esau," there is an inner and an outer narrative but both are presented from Emil Dalmady's pov and in the third person. How many ways are there to tell a story? (And, as Kipling said, "...each and every one of them is right." See here.)

Having mentioned Berg's religion - which is what his story is about -, we should also mention that Dalmady is from Altai which has a Muslim-Buddhist synthesis with a Prophet and a Tower. Anderson shows us human diversity proliferating in the future.

10 comments:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    I am disturbed to realize from this bit quoted from "The Problem of Pain," that some who call themselves Christians deny the immortality of the soul. To a Catholic that is almost as heretical as a "Christian" denying the divinity of Christ.

    Yes, I knew from repeating reading of "A Message in Secret" that the dominant religion of Altai is a synthesis of Buddhism and Islam. To me, that is just plain weird! And I think orthodox Buddhists and Muslims would absolutely disagree with the Altaians.

    But, yes, Poul Anderson was showing us how theologically diverse humans of the future are likely to be.

    Sean

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    1. Sean,
      I think the response of members of our Zen group to the Altaian synthesis would be, "I don't see it that way but let's hear more."
      Paul.

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    2. Kaor, Paul!

      But we would need to know more about what the Altaian "Prophet" taught, and exactly what he took from Buddhism and Islam to create the Altaian religion.

      It should also be noted that the Tebtengri Shamanate, the other major Altaian nation opposing the Khan of All the Tribes, believed in a kind of animism and rejected that Buddhism/Islam "merging."

      Sean

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    3. Sean,
      Yes, diversity even on Altai. A whole world...
      Paul.

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    4. Kaor, Paul!

      Exactly! Even tho both the Shamanate and the followers of the Prophet Juchi did have much in common, if only because the cold, dry climate of Altai made that a practical necessity.

      Sean

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  2. Kaor, Paul!

    I should have added to my previous comment that I find Poul Anderson's treatment of religions and philosophies in his Technic Civilization stories far more plausible and interesting than what I find in most other SF writers. Isaac Asimov's Galactic Empire, for example, has almost nothing in it touching on such matters except a poor, thin, imitation of the Jews and the ludicrous Religion of Science cooked up by Salvor Hardin (the latter to be seen in FOUNDATION). The lack of any serious treatment of philosophical and religious ideas in his FOUNDATION books helps to explain why I eventually found them so unsatisfactory.

    Sean

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    1. Kaor, Paul!

      I had to search thru Asimov's later addition to the FOUNDATION books: PRELUDE TO FOUNDATION (1988), before I found what I had in mind. The poor imitation of the Jews were the inhabitants of the Mycogenian Sector of Trantor, descended from the ancient colonists of the planet Aurora. It's in the chapters or parts called "Mycogen," Sunmaster," "Microfarm," "Bookd," and "Sacratorium." Asimov plainly meant to "resemble" Orthodox Jews.

      Sean

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    2. Kaor, Paul!

      Anytime! Despite my disagreements and dissatisfaction with many of his works, Asimov remains a major SF author. Meaning some familiarity with his works is necessary for all serious fans.

      Sean

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