Racism (was Re: Hugh Lofting)

Sally Odgers sodgers at tassie.net.au
Thu Feb 6 22:09:05 EST 2003

> Alterering that is the same thing as altering the
> Bible.

which is done all the time whenever the English is modernised... and I
assume was also done when the thing was translated in the first place. I
have a great affection for the King James version; it has a lovely rhythm
that is lost in the NEL edition. IMO, of course. KJ reads aloud

Sallyo (who had to study Huck Finn and loathed it almost as much as she
loathed Captains Courageous and all the other gruesome things dished up by
1970s Eng. Lit. No - wait. I liked Macbeth and enjoyed Horses of the
Carmargue... 2 items. A sad harvest for 4 years...)

I'm not sure if Eng Lit actually put me off a great many genres or if I'd
have disliked them anyway. Maybe what got dished up just *happened* to
consist of genres and styles I would never read by choice.  And they're
still at it. I had to wade through The Great Gatsby to help my daughter -

By Sally Odgers By Request - visit my new project at
http://sallyodgers.50megs.com/byrequest.htm and have your say.

A book like that must be judged warts and all.
> Secondly, as mentioned above the racism (or whatever
> else may offend) in those books is Part of the
> Historical Record, and important in understanding the
> era that produced them, and also hopefully, the likely
> results of those attitutes. In many cases those views
> are expressed in a quite extreme, or at least
> unsubtle, form and are very obvious. They can be quite
> unsettling even to people who may be harbourering a
> less extreme version of the same view now.
> Thirdly people may wonder what implicit assumptions
> are in our popular fiction that may be offensive to
> future generations. This is of course virtually
> impossible, however it can be instructive just to
> realise that we may have implicit assumptions that our
> grandchildren will find deeply offensive. Trying to
> think of a possible example - gender roles may be one.
> Fourthly, with  books with which we ourselves grew up,
> it is important to revisit the attitudes of our
> childhoods and critically examine them. In my list of
> favourites I mentioned the Biggles books of WE Johns,
> these books were full of all sorts of assumptions and
> sttitudes. Some of these were wonderfully sent up by
> Monty Python, who took a Strong Reading approach that
> all the central characters were gay. One book "Biggles
> in Australia" was reprinted here a few years ago
> without changing the text and illustrated by a popular
> Oz cartoonist as a parody of itself. The book was full
> of all sorts of stereotypes of Australia and racist
> attitudes (Aborigines being described as "Blacks of
> the very worst type") however this book (if I remember
> my Biggles chronology correctly) was fist published in
> the 1950s only twenty five years or so before the
> aforesaid reprint. A whole generation of Australian
> (and British)  boys grew up on this. These people need
> to revisit their own pasts. (and if the prices I see
> on the net for old Biggles books are a guide, many of
> them are - my brother snaffled the Biggles books)
> ((this is the price of being the oldest - you cant't
> take all your childhood books when you leave home so
> younger siblings claim ownership of them))
> It seems that everytime i go to bed a new thread has
> started on this list - I can't keep up. AAGGHHH!!!!
> Jon
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