[DWJ] Monthly Read-Along - Charmed Life

jodel at aol.com jodel at aol.com
Tue Nov 6 00:34:12 EST 2012

Oh yes, the story is unquestionably guilty as charged on the count of being an Imperialist society. Particularly when one disects the matter of the position the office of Chrestomancy holds in that world's society. Because we were told directly that Chrestomancy is an office of the *British* government, not some vaguely world-wide organization dedicated to oversight on magic use. 
And indeed when the whole situation got out of hand in 'Magicians of Caprona', Chrestomance pointed out that he *had* to be asked to intervene officially for otherwise his hands were tied. So evidently the British Empire is going strong in that world and it colors the attitudes of how things 'ought' to be. But still, Britain does not rule the world, however great its influence.
But, y'know, for all the problematic elements of that fact, the underlying Imperialism is a large part of the charm of that particuolar world.A lot of us have read books written or set in our own Imperialist period, and 12A feels very homey and welcoming because of it.
And, Imperialism is a fairly pervasive mental attitude to live under -- because it *is* made up of all sorts of shadings and nuances and tiny clues as to who is to be treated how, and who ought to defer to who, in a clear hierarchy. In such a system anyone visibly different will be pigeonholed and expected to cvompluy to different rules from the "designated masters". Females have been catching flack from this attitude forever.
We do know that there are Enchanters and Enchantresses and that their magic works somewhat differently from that of witches and wizards (or warlocks). We also know that there has never to this point in time been a female Chrestomanci. We do *not* know, although it is implied, that there has never been the *possibility* of a female Chrestomanci. Or possibly, it goes somewhat farther and that when it has been necessary to search for a new candidate for the office, those who organized the search just short-sightedly confined their search to boys.Given the rarity of 9-lived Enchanters, (Christopher and Eric Chant were the *only* candidates of their respective generations.) It is clearly coming down to the point that at some time in the future the only candidate will unquestionably be a girl. And I do not envy her the kind of interference she is going to have to deal with when that day dawns.
Plus, as easy as it is to translate 12B as being 'our' world, we have no real assurance of that. The whole series of interrelated worlds could be something else entirely.

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