Re Brust, censorship and Millie

Rowland, Jennifer jennifer.rowland at
Wed Jun 21 07:31:36 EDT 2000

>As promised to Chris in particular I'll start off by talking about 
>Steven Brust. He's a Hungarian American
<big snip>
>Did I say I can go on a bit , I think I've just proved it, hope it 
>encourages people to look at Mr Brust. 

Well it has me!
>Whenever people start pointing out things the fundamentalists 
>might ban i start worrying that they might be listening -- don't give 
>them ideas! I only want to put a farthings worth into this debate. I've 
>noticed that while its reflexive to agree that kids should be 
>protected from bad stuff this contradicts my own memories of the 
>effect of my childhood reading. SPOILER WARNING - GEORGE 
>ORWELL. For example Animal farm, which I read at around 9?10?, 
>against parental and brotherly advice, because it was "about 
>animals" gave me nightmares (Napoleon the pig was buried next to 
>our garage and came out of his grave!) yet I greatly value learning 
>its lesson about power at such an early age. I never forgot the poor 
>animals wondering whether the  inhabitants of the farmhouse were 
>the pigs or the humans.

>Don't vote it only encourages them.

Ah, but not voting encourages them as well! Maybe spoil the ballot paper.
Did you know all the candidates have to look at spoiled papers, to make sure
they don't protest they might be real? So writing "You are all as bad as
each other", or something ruder, does at least get seen and you don't just
pass as one of the apathetic non-voters. 

I also read Animal Farm young, and hated it (as indeed I did Homeward
Bounders- it's so tragic), and don't think it did me any harm. What I'm
confused about are the things that slid over my head- the incredible racism
in Dr Doolittle, which I don't think has made me racist but I would now feel
very uncomfortable having my young cousins read. 
Things that I do think should be kept away from children are stuff like,
first example that pops into my head, Reservoir Dogs. It's taken me months
to recover from seeing someone's ear casually slied off. I think children
have enough scary stuff in their own world without us deliberately adding
images like that. Somehow the wicked witch being burnt in her own oven
doesn't have the power of seeing *real* grownups hurting people.
(I loved the Iliad when I was 10 but can't stand it now. The pleasure the
heroes all take in blood is horrible. I think the only time anyone laughs
all the way through the Iliad and Odyessy is when a beggar gets his hands
and feet cut off. So somehow I missed that then or didn't see it as real-
maybe it's part of the way you grow up by stopping seeing other peoplr as
puppets and start empathising with them. Which I think reading a lot helps
you to do, but then I'm biased.)
I suppose the only thing one can do is not give children things that make
one uneasy, but not worry too much if they read them anyway.

> On Mon, 19 Jun 2000, Deirdre Behan wrote:
>>> And why does she go around
>>> all the time seeming to be so afraid of Chrestomanci - think of the
>>> when Cat and Jane try and run away?

and Lizzie quoted on  Sun, 11 Jun 2000 16:04:35 
>> My love, we were
>> needing you, she says when he appears

>both referring to Millie in CL. I certainly didn't get the impression 
>that millie was afraid of Chrestomanci, worried for him perhaps. I 
>think the thing is that most of our impressions are filtered through 
>Cat and he's wrong about quite a lot of things. Cat is afraid of 
>Chrestomanci so he rather assumes everyone else is too. 

I got the feeling she was protecting Chrestomanci from the hassles of
everyday life- from all the books it seems like Chrestomanci has a very
difficult job, so maybe the last thing he needs is to have to chase after
some child who's run away!
After I read LoCC I did feel that Millie would have to shrink to become
Milly, being a witch or whatever herself, but maybe she takes the same view
of it as she did of going to school- what ripping fun to bring up children?

I seem to have been writing a lot of very opinionated stuff to the list.
Everyone raises such interesting questions, though!
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