CS Lewis (Was: Favourite books)

Jadwiga Zajaczkowa / Jenne Heise jenne at fiedlerfamily.net
Tue Dec 14 10:20:39 EST 2004


> >Lewis's attitudes toward women are much more troubling-- I find it
> >especially unnerving to realize that his books have a much more
> >childish-academic-gentleman prejudice about adult women than Kipling
> >does...
> 
> Baffled noise.
> 
> Kipling wasn't childish, wasn't an academic and as a member of the Press
> mostly wasn't a gentleman, and I have never noticed any prejudice about
> women in his books at all, unless it is that they are on the whole better
> at being themselves than his men are.  In fact I'd've said his work is full
> of splendid women just getting on with being women and letting the men
> faffle about being mere and male if they want to.  Please please explain!
> 

Well, exactly. Everyone likes to think of Kipling as a bigot, and he 
does have a childish approach to people-- he never quite got past being 
the Rudy-baba spoilt by his parents and non-European nurses and 
servants. That's part of why he was so easily led by negative politics 
at the end of his life-- they appealed to his childish attitudes.  We 
don't expect deep philosophical thought from Kipling; we expect deep 
philosophical thought from Lewis. But Kipling, whose descriptions are 
undeniably biased by his ideology, is in some ways a female chauvenist 
pig-- very few of his women are weak and stupid (at least not at the 
same time).  

But the Inklings in general, and Lewis in particular, were never very
good at writing women, and seem to have never encountered strong capable
women, and they have less respect for women than the poster-child 
of Victorian attitudes and biases, Kipling. That's what's surprising.

Ok, I guess it isn't all that surprising, given that the academic
atmosphere in which the Inklings lived really had few strong, admirable
women, and the time in which they lived had less respect for women than
the Victorian era-- not to mention that women of the upper class in the
first half of the 20th century seem to have been encouraged to act daft,
at least when men were around. Add to that, the academic atmosphere that 
owes way too much to the Greeks, including their philosophy and their 
view of women (Aristotle made philosophical statements about women's 
anatomy based on his beliefs of the chain of being, even though only a 
few seconds worth of questioning and/or examination of his wife would 
have blown his theories out of the water)... well, I guess that makes 
the fact that the Inklings were so anti-women rather believable.

-- 
-- Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, Knowledge Pika jenne at fiedlerfamily.net 
"I don't get the facts wrong.  It's everything else I screw up."
    -- _The Librarian: Quest for the Spear_
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