Popularity of books

Rowland, Jennifer A B jennifer.rowland at imperial.ac.uk
Fri Apr 11 07:06:39 EDT 2003

Hallie wrote:
> Other than that, as a child, I loved Arthur Ransome, Elizabeth 
> Enright, E. Nesbit and Ursula Le Guin's Wizard of Earthsea, just off 
> the top of my head, and there certainly aren't a lot of super-hatable 
> baddies in that lot!

Drifting... Le Guin has a very evil villain in The World For Word Is Forest-
we get his viewpoint for some of it, and it's all about how his race is
superior, and it isn't really rape with these indigenes because they're not
real women, and so on- and she says in The Language of the Night (book of
essays about writing- very interesting) that she would have written it
differently a few years later- she didn't think that pure evil was
I haven't re-read the book since I read that essay, but I don't remember
being dissatisfied with the character- his motivations, and
self-justifications for why he could ignore other people and do whatever he
wanted, seemed all too familiar. I guess she's a good enough writer that
even an Evil Plot Device *had* motivations! 

I can think of quite a few baaaaad-for-the-sake-of-it characters from my
childhood reading, like the Goblin King from Oz, or Dahl's grotesques like
the Twits, or the totally selfish "teachers" who exploit the children in
Wolves Of Willoughby Chase or A Little Princess. There are also some like
the Fox in Jemima Puddleduck- where it's the fox's nature to eat ducks. 
(I did also like books where the antagonists aren't evil, or where the
conflict isn't with people at all! Just that I can think of some that had
hatable characters.)
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