Tag: flight from neveryon

Plagues and Carnivals in Delany's “The Tale of Plagues and Carnivals”

by on Sep.20, 2011

As part of a virtual reading group, over the past few months I’ve been working my way through Samuel R. Delany’s Tales of Nevèrÿon series (1979-1987); we’re in the middle of discussing Flight from Nevèrÿon, the third of four books in the series.

Flight from Nevèrÿon includes in it “The Tale of Plagues and Carnivals,” an experimental novel of crisis responding to the AIDS situation in early 1980s NYC. It’s been interesting reading it in the context of recent posts by Joyelle and Johannes on plagues, plague states, and the notion of infectious poetics.

“The Tale of Plagues and Carnivals” is preceded by two other tales in this book, all of which dialectically relate. The other Nevèrÿon books are also a series of linked tales, each describing layers of the fantasy world of Nevèrÿon as it “transition[s] from a barter to a money economy” (Tales 12). Over here we have Gorgik the Liberator freeing slaves and erotically resignifying the iron slave collar he himself once wore; over there we have Pryn, a young barbarian woman who brazenly flies a dragon before embarking on a journey of self-education that will lead her to Gorgik, to the mummers, to a scheming wizard, and more; roving all around is Raven, a rascally, wonderfully überfeminist warrior woman brandishing a double-bladed sword, who pops up here and there leaving shadows for Pryn to conjecture about; among many other characters.
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