Phoenix from the Ashes: The Literature of the Remade World

By Carl B. Yoke | Go to book overview

brain . . . that which is me loves you, the you underneath the mask."17 In an old and tired world we can expect no planetary miracles of vitality and vigor; the world cannot be remade, but we can remake ourselves. Vitality lies in the youth that love brings. Guyal and Shierl, at the Museum of Man, gaze at the white, bright stars; Etarr looks down into T'sais' face, into "the eyes glowing with such feverish joy that they seemed afire." 18 The message is clear; we alone, through love, renew ourselves.

There are, ultimately, no great purposes in Vance's world. The great challenges of the classic postcatastrophe novel with its grand rebuildings and noble struggles are not for him. It is clear that in such an old world one monumental task, more or less, is insignificant. All deeds, unimaginably monstrous and exhilaratingly noble, fade and are ultimately forgotten. The passage of time, inexorable and slow, erases all mementos and monuments. In Vance's finite and symmetrical universe, governed by the universal Law of Equipoise, all things come to an end. It avails us naught to ignore the inevitable. In the story "Lliane the Wayfarer," a darkly beautiful allegory of death, Vance reminds us that even the young and vital, like Lliane the Wayfarer with his golden eyes and all unthinking and careless in his rash bravado, will not avoid death. Chun, the Unavoidable, says when he hands the witch Lith two golden threads for her unfinished tapestry, "it is two long threads for you. Two because the eyes were so great, so large, so golden." 19

All that is or can be significant in our transitory passage are the simple things like love, which in the short span of two lives leaves an indelible mark.


NOTES
1.
William Shakespeare, As You Like It, The Complete Works of Shakespeare, ed. Hardin Craig (Glenville, Ill.: Scott, Foresman and Co., 1961), II, l. vii.
2.
Jack Vance, The Dying Earth ( New York: Pocket Books, 1977), p. 42.
5.
Jack Vance, Eyes of the Overworld ( New York: Pocket Books, 1977), p. 101.
6.
Vance, The Dying Earth, p. 108.
7.
Vance, Eyes of the Overworld, p. 101.
8.
Jack Vance, Cugel's Saga ( New York: Baen Enterprises, 1984), p. 253.
9.
Vance, The Dying Earth, p. 150.

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