Rod a Petrarchan Lover?

The Warlock, the Warlock's Heirs, and the Rogue Wizard.
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Rod a Petrarchan Lover?

Postby aeneas » Fri Sep 09, 2011 8:06 pm

Mr. Stasheff,
Did you purposely imbue Rod with the spirit of a Petrarchan lover? His life, and even his death, seems motivated by his worship of Gwen. Of course, unlike the unattainable woman of Petrarchan tradition, Gwen is attainable. But Rod never feels completely worthy of her and always strives to earn at least a feeling of worthiness. In that way, he is like the traditional male lover who strives for approval from the object of his desire. In addition, Rod’s whole notion of existence, belief in God, and his vision of democracy seem wrapped up somehow with his vision of love/romance/desire. He seems very Petrarchan to me. Magnus, on the other hand, does not seem to fit the Petrarchan pattern. While he does seek a woman to heal his wounds, I never get the sense that his actions are dominated by the desire to please his lady. Anyway, just some thoughts I’ve had while rereading some of the series.
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Re: Rod a Petrarchan Lover?

Postby feaelin » Sun Sep 11, 2011 4:51 am

It does seem that way with Rodney doesn't it? There's a speech by Gwen that sticks in my mind, I can't remember the exact words, but she says something to the effect that she keeps shoring up his self-esteem, trying to build Rodney up in his own eyes. I guess she feels he fails to give himself the credit he's due and acknowledge he's worthy of admiration.

aeneas wroteColonMagnus, on the other hand, does not seem to fit the Petrarchan pattern. While he does seek a woman to heal his wounds, I never get the sense that his actions are dominated by the desire to please his lady. Anyway, just some thoughts I’ve had while rereading some of the series.

imo, Magnus is trying establish himself as separate and different from his father and struggling with being so much like him anyway despite what (he believes) he wants.
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Re: Rod a Petrarchan Lover?

Postby cstasheff » Tue Sep 20, 2011 9:09 pm

I blush to admit it, Aeneas, but I have read very little of Petrarch. As with other great poets, though, his ideas percolate through book culture, leaving thoughts and traces everywhere. Rod certainly does fit the Petrarchian mold, constantly seeking Gwen's approval -- and yes, she does have to shore up his self-esteem. I did finally have her getting sick and tired of the constant nurturing. Most of that happened only in writers' notes, but some of it shows up in THE WARLOCK INSANE. Yes, Magnus is immune to this -- the one good side effect of his own soul-damage -- and yes, he struggles to distinguish himself from his father -- not easy, when he admires Rod so thoroughly and never quite outgrew his adolescent urge to emulate his father-hero -- but he managed it by having the good sense to NOT go into his father's field; he may be a secret agent, like Rod, but pursues his own goals, not those of an ideological organization.
In both cases, yes, the woman ties in with the goal. Rod arrives on Gramarye seeking his identity, and finds two different embodiments of it -- Catharine and Gwen. He gravitates to Gwen partly because of her idealism and devotion, not to mention searching for a cause to which she can devote her life. Since Rod seems to be afflicted with the same virus, they more or less naturally fit together. Ironically, she adopts his cause and he hers.
Magnus is goal is to free the world, or worlds, from tyranny, striving for the best for those particular people, trying to mold the political form to the culture, not force the people into a pre-established mold. He doesn't realize that by doing that, he's working to free himself from the ideals with which he has been reared -- which he does, but only to find that his own choice, partly self-made, is to help guard Gramarye from just such subversive agents as himself. Again it is the woman who embodies the ideal -- Alea is running away from virtual imprisonment and an oppressive value structure, trying to find her own, and Magnus shows her the way as much as she serves as an example of his.
I'll try to explain this all in a future blog post.
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Re: Rod a Petrarchan Lover?

Postby kf6eml » Sat Sep 24, 2011 1:59 am

There may be such a thing as too much explanation.

A few things I love about good stories are:
When threads of the story are left dangling, I get to imagine how the characters will handle those issues... until the sequel comes out, and gives me double the pleasure, because I get to imagine the story one way, and then later, I get the real story from the author how they actually did handle the issues. Double bang for my literary buck, plus it stretches my mind in a lot of different directions.
Another is when the characters' motives are left unclear. Then we can imagine all sorts of motives, again, until the author comes out in a new novel and clarifies things. For example, why does Mr. X want to perfect his death-ray beam? Sequel number XVII may just have the earth invaded by little green men, and Mr. X uses it to defeat the invasion. Hmm! Turns out he wasn't trying to take over the world... He was trying to save it! Too much detail in the early books could make such a twist impossible.

While it is nice to get the story straight, I sometimes mourn the loss of the romanticism in guessing what's next, or why things went the way they did.
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Re: Rod a Petrarchan Lover?

Postby aeneas » Wed Nov 02, 2011 10:05 pm

Mr. Stasheff,

I've read very little of Petrarch too, but you're certainly right about his ideas appearing all over the place. Along with Homer, Virgil, and the Bible, Petrarch influences lyric poetry and heroic narrative throughout the Middle Ages/Renaissance. Consider Book 9 of Paradise Lost, for instance, where Adam tells Eve that her beauty strengthens his virtue, a very Petrarchan thing to say. Adam even feels that Eve may be superior because of her this feeling that she stirs in him (Of course Milton has the Raphael shoot down that idea).

Rod seems very much like that with Gwen. Magnus and Alea do seem to balance each other more, as you say. Do you see the development of their relationship as a reflection your own developing views of relationships over the years? I certainly know that my views have changed over the years the longer I'm married!

Anyway, thanks for the great response.

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