William Mayne update

deborah deborah at suberic.net
Sat Mar 27 12:44:01 EST 2004

On Sun, 28 Mar 2004, Sally Odgers wrote:

|> Mayne to the list's attention - he's now admitted
|> the charges.
|>> Shocking. Leaves me speechless.
|How do you think this impinges on his work as a writer? Before this, he was
|much admired (even if not read a lot lately). Do you think there will be
|some revisionist readings and hasty droppings of his stuff from collections
|now? Or will his work continue to be esteemed? Lord Byron did some pretty
|weird stuff in his time, and so have other writers (Poe, etc), but their
|work is still admired. Lewis Carroll seems to have had a slightly odd
|relationship with children too.

We talked about this in school with regards to Michael Dorris, Louise
Erdrich's husband who was accused of abusing their daughters and then
committed suicide.  He's written some truly wonderful books -- I highly
recommend Morning Girl.

And yet Morning Girl is the story of a Taino girl before Europeans
arrive, and she, like everyone else in her island, is naked for the
entire book.  It's a beautiful story, and not sexualized at all.  Yet as
adults, how troublesome is it to read a book about naked little girl
written by a man who was accused of abusing his own daughters?  I don't
think we ever came to any firm conclusions about how that should affect
whether or not the book was used with children, and how it should be
used with children.

The allegations, by the way, were never proven.  The two adopted
daughters who made the accusations were reportedly deeply troubled girls
who had suffered from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  Which certainly doesn't
refute their accusations, but it doesn't mean that the situation is as
simple as "we know Michael Dorris abused little girls".  Even if that
were simple -- it's still wouldn't tell us if we should read the books
any differently.

Does anybody read Alice any differently just because Alice Liddell was
the object of the author's gaze?  I don't, but that might just be me.

In plain then, what forbids he but to know,
Forbids us good, forbids us to be wise?   -- Paradise Lost

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