Peace (novel)

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First edition
Author Gene Wolfe
Genre fantasy
Publisher Harper & Row
Publication date
Media type Print
Pages 264
ISBN 0-06-014699-0

Peace is an early novel by Gene Wolfe that on its surface is the story of a man growing up in a small Midwestern town in the early to mid-20th century. The narrator, Alden Dennis Weer, goes over memories from different parts of his life—his childhood, early adulthood, middle age, old age.[1][2] Unlike many of Wolfe's most well-known works, it is a stand-alone novel rather than part of a series, and at least ostensibly takes place in a realistic, present-day world instead of a fantastic setting.

As in many of Wolfe's novels, much of the novel is taken up with stories within stories—particularly stories told to Weer as a child.[1] Many of the key events of the novel are not explicitly narrated, but can be inferred or guessed at based on information in the stories.

Different critics interpret differently what is actually happening in the novel.[3] One interpretation is that Weer is dead, and the scattered memories are those of a ghost; in 2014, Wolfe confirmed that this was his intention.[4] Another interpretation is that the memories of his old age are the fantasies of a middle-aged Weer, who is experiencing a nervous breakdown. The novel includes subtle clues to guide the reader's understanding of the story, although the mysteries behind these clues have been hotly debated.[5]

Wolfe has described Peace as his favorite work, as it is the one where he came closest to achieving his original goals. Neil Gaiman, who has frequently praised the novel, said: "Peace really was a gentle Midwestern memoir the first time I read it. It only became a horror novel on the second or the third reading."[6]


  1. ^ a b Joan Gordon (1986). Gene Wolfe. Wildside Press. ISBN 978-0-89370-956-3. Retrieved 2011-12-20. 
  2. ^ Philip Raines. "Peace: Fantasy Masterworks 28". Infinityplus. Retrieved 2011-12-20. 
  3. ^ Robert Borski. "The Devil His Due: Gene Wolfe's Peace.". Sirius fiction. Retrieved 2011-12-20. 
  4. ^ A Q&A with Gene Wolfe, by Jason Pontin; in MIT Technology Review; published July 24, 2014
  5. ^ Mordicai Knode, "Gene Wolfe's Peace Will Leave You Anything But Peaceful,", October 26, 2012. Retrieved 2013-10-22.
  6. ^ Neil Gaiman, "How to Read Gene Wolfe," Fantasy and Science Fiction, April 2007. Retrieved 2013-10-22.

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