Literary pet peeves

Gili Bar-Hillel abhillel at
Sun Feb 9 14:28:43 EST 2003

I don't know exactly what to call this, but one of my pet peeves is moral 
oversimplification. I think Madeline L'Engle does this a lot, particular in 
some of her later books, and it just annoys me to bits. There's some 
sentence in _Dragons in the Waters_ where someone is tsk-tsking about some 
ancient feud between two cousins, and then goes on to compare it to the 
madness of Jews who became Nazi hunters after the holocaust - I remember 
reading this and boggling. There are plenty of arguments against Nazi 
hunters that I could probably agree with, but to have only one little 
digression implying that everyone knows Nazi hunters are just nursing a 
grudge and isn't that too bad, without raising any of the pro and con 
arguments, seemed to me to be oversimplification of such a massive order 
that it completely turned me off to the book (which I hadn't liked that much 
to begin with). And suddenly I became increasingly sensitive to this kind of 
moralizing in L'Engle's books, not only the inferior ones - it reached the 
point that I don't even like the ones I used to like.

Her Zachary character is perpetually in the moral wrong - even more so his 
parents. No one even needs to explain why. If it came out of the mouth of 
this family, then it is Wrong, as anyone who is Right simply knows.

Gili Bar-Hillel
Tel-Aviv, tel.(03)5250014

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