A divisive figure among il/lit/erates, Gene Wolfe is both loved and hated on /lit/. Those who love him swear that his autistic SFF works are among the most well-written and complex literary works of the later part of the 21st century. Those who hate him proclaim that he is an incompetent hack who offers nothing besides trash genre fiction. Consequently, those that hate him have probably never read his work but rather enjoy shitposting about him because MUH GENRE FICTION. If on the off chance they have read him, they are most likely reddit-tier brainlets who are assmad that Wolfe is smarter than they are.
Wolfe is one of the only genre writers which /lit/ believes to have significant literary merit. This is primarily due to his employment of complex modernist and post-modernist techniques as well as his seemingly endless knowledge of highly technical topics which he weaves into his narratives in a successful manner. Among some of the topics he has shown to hold a deep knowledge of include:
- Ancient History
- Mythology (Particularly Norse, Greek, and Roman)
- Catholic Doctrine
- Thomistic Metaphysics
He is most fond of unreliable narrators and almost all of his fiction is written from a first-person perspective for this reason. His choice of using unreliable narrators is essential to his thematic concerns, of which identity, memory, and consciousness seem to be his primary focus. Using these themes as the primary driving force throughout his narratives allows him to explore more metaphysical concerns such as the nature of sin, redemption, salvation, eschatology, and mythology.
Apart from unreliable narrators, Wolfe is also very fond of modernist and meta-textual techniques such as obscure allusions (including self-referential allusions to himself or his other works), dense symbolism, inset narratives, stream-of-consciousness, and subversion of common tropes. Wolfe is widely known to be a normie filter, as almost all of his works are meant to be re-read multiple times to even begin to make sense of a a given narratives plot-points--let alone Wolfe's ultimate vision. Add to this Wolfe's superior aesthetic skills and his focus on character and theme over plot and it's easy to see why Wolfe isn't more widely read.
As a Meme
Due to his controversial status on /lit/, as well as his reputation for being the most literary genre writer currently writing, Wolfe has come into his own as a meme. Some memes associated with him include:
- Meme Wolfe (As seen at the top of this page)
- The Wolfemeister
- Geney Boy
- Severian the Wojak
- Le Pringles Man
- Meme Tetraology
Bibliography (with brief summary of texts):
- Operation Ares (1970): Out of print since its initial run. Wolfe seems to be rather embarrassed by this title, as it was his first published novel and lacks much of the polish and techniques that Wolfe would come to be known for.
- The Fifth Head of Cerberus (1972): Not a single novel, per se. Rather a collection of three connected novellas. A great starting point for Wolfe, this novel deals with post-colonialism by framing the story on a pair of moons. The original inhabitants of these moons (referred to as Abo's) had the unique ability to perfectly mimic any lifeform they came into contact with. The narrator's, presumably descendants of the original French colonists, are thus left with the question of what exactly happened to the original Abo's.
- Peace (1975): Arguably Wolfe's most "realistic" novel, this novel is framed as a series of memoirs of an old and dying man named Alden Dennis Weer. A difficult work to summarize as it isn't structured as a typical narrative. One of Wolfe's greatest achievements.
- The Devil in a Forest (1976)