Heroes and reality

Robyn Starkey rohina at shaw.ca
Tue Aug 5 00:07:57 EDT 2003


>Oh, they have angst in spades, but they also take for granted a variant on
>theocracy, a monarchical system, an aristocratic structure of society, the
>concept that the ultimate destination of a successful merchant will be the
>aristocracy....... A lot of the psychological problems they have are also
>linked to concepts such as divination, magic, alchemy, which are hardly part
>of our world. The Dame de Doubtance could hardly have such an influence on a
>real modern hero as she has on Francis.

I totally disagree, because I think these latter things are 20th century 
preoccupations. I guess we must have different world views.

>But such things did happen. Look at Federico de Montefeltro, who lost an eye
>and half his face, yet was one of the most powerful condottiere of Italy
>*after* that - and ran the court at Urbino that was the model of a
>Renaissance court.

Losing an eye is not as perilous as a belly wound. Look, I'm not a medical 
person, but I had a long discussion with a doctor and a vet who read the 
books, and they convinced me that these parts of the book were highly 
unrealistic. Prior to that conversation, I would have shared your opinion.

>You don't feel individualism was a feature of the Renaissance?

No, I think it was emergent at that time, but that medieval and renaissance 
cultures had a lot more in common with modern asian cultures, which have a 
much more collective or community-based mindset.

>Surely the
>history of that period is littered with individuals who forged powerful
>businesses and families? I don't think Bess of Hardwick lacked
>individualism, to take a random example!

I would argue that since European history is, for the most part, written by 
people from highly individualistic cultural backgrounds, these types of 
individuals are exactly what historians look for and write about, because 
they appeal. Sure, you can pick out some rugged individuals as examples, 
but, particularly in the case of women, even their most enthusiastic fans 
have to admit that they tend to be atypical examples.

Robyn 
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