Just a few thoughts on symbolism. I’m currently re-reading Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun series, and I’m really fascinated by the use of symbolism. I won’t go into detail here, but there are good essays here and here if you’re interested. Now, is it me, or are symbols totally out of vogue these days? It’s almost as if there’s a mere hint of those sorts of things, it turns people off.
I remember reading China Miéville and loving the fact that many of his names actually meant something. They weren’t just plucked out of The Big Book Of Bobbins Fantasy Names. Of course, it’s not essential for story, but what about those who want something in addition to that?
Maybe it’s just me, but I love those kind of things in books. Even if only a handful of people really want to dig into your work, it’s wonderful that there are layers to be picked at again and again. I love to make allusions to things, to trick and sidestep the reader, and then when he or she have found the secret doors there might be a new sense of satisfaction.