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Old 07-14-2020, 11:31 AM   #151
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Originally Posted by astrangerhere View Post
This is not hard. When the native Africans are referred to as "primitives" as well as the entire theme of the white saviors of Europe coming to "improve" the natives are obviously racist, even if they were the status quo of the time.

Did Haggard hold racist views? Almost certainly. He was involved in colonialism in South Africa, which was a whole bag of issues all on its own. Nevermind that modern African scholars deplore his work and others like it. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, a Kenyan scholar of race and literature, refers to Haggard as one of the "geniuses of racism" in his book Decolonizing the Mind.

He's dead and his works cannot profit anyone anymore, but I would still not enjoy reading them. However, as a member of a minority who had my private life subject to criminal law at one point, I am certainly not telling anyone what they can and can't read - only to be informed about it and not try to pretend that it is something that it isn't.
Of course he was a racist by modern standards. No one has disputed that. The point is, was he a racist by the standards of his time? Personally I don't think so. Of course there are many people who cannot stand any standards or viewpoints more backward than the 21st century ones and have even accused authors of historical or fantasy fiction for creating characters who don't think like modern people. Now that's what I find ridiculous. If you want modern values, read fiction taking place in the modern world. It's perfectly understandable that someone who has been hurt by ignorant or reactionary beliefs doesn't want to read anything even faintly smelling of such views. But it's pretty ridiculous to accuse historical authors of holding the general views of their time.
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Old 07-14-2020, 01:04 PM   #152
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So here's a question.

If, as Issy seemed to imply, no good deed such as a book that people get enjoyment from reading, can act as a means of redemption for that author why allow them to be members of society if they're still among the living? They've already doomed themselves to a life of condemnation and shame with no hope of redemption/reformation.

Personally I believe that redemption is possible, while no act can totally wipe away acts such as child abuse, especially if it's of a sexual nature, humans are not just a single aspect of their lives. And while a book, or several books, will certainly not wash their hands clean it should still be taken as a measure of the person they were/are.
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Old 07-14-2020, 01:23 PM   #153
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So here's a question.

If, as Issy seemed to imply, no good deed such as a book that people get enjoyment from reading, can act as a means of redemption for that author why allow them to be members of society if they're still among the living? They've already doomed themselves to a life of condemnation and shame with no hope of redemption/reformation.

Personally I believe that redemption is possible, while no act can totally wipe away acts such as child abuse, especially if it's of a sexual nature, humans are not just a single aspect of their lives. And while a book, or several books, will certainly not wash their hands clean it should still be taken as a measure of the person they were/are.
I believe the same. Not that I read books by problematic authors because I believe that it's specifically these books which redeem them. I read the books because in my mind the person of the author and his/her creation are two separate things. One influences the other, of course, but they're not the same to me.

Speaking of redemption, a mystery author Anne Perry comes to mind. I admit I didn't read her books before becoming aware of her history; I came upon an article mentioning her and bought a few of her novels after learning about her crime (historical mysteries being one of my favorite genres). Do I think her novels redeem what she did? No. But they're still good books, in my opinion.
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Old 07-14-2020, 01:25 PM   #154
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Speaking of redemption, a mystery author Anne Perry comes to mind. I admit I didn't read her books before becoming aware of her history; I came upon an article mentioning her and bought a few of her novels after learning about her crime (historical mysteries being one of my favorite genres). Do I think her novels redeem what she did? No. But they're still good books, in my opinion.
She writes what she knows.
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Old 07-14-2020, 04:22 PM   #155
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Originally Posted by astrangerhere View Post
When the native Africans are referred to as "primitives" as well as the entire theme of the white saviors of Europe coming to "improve" the natives are obviously racist, even if they were the status quo of the time.
See in defence of King Solomon's Mines:

Quote:
Negative portrayals of the impact of European so-called civilisation on Africa are another way by which Haggard tries to undermine the received ideas of his time. Throughout, the white man's greed for "bright stones", ie diamonds, is deprecated: it should be remembered that, at the time of publication, Cecil Rhodes was in his pomp, already a notorious figure. Umbopa, or Ignosi as he becomes, is a vehicle for other deprecations at the end of the book: "No other white man shall cross the mountains, even if any may live to come so far. I shall see no traders with their guns and rum."
This post is something out of a book that, unlike anything by H. Rider Haggard, I have actually read. So I'm posting to give another view, not to claim who is correct about Haggard's character.

I applaud reading widely. If looking for the anti-racist bits, in a novel that has passages we should disapprove, helps the quest for exposure to diverse literature, I favor it. Maybe now I'll get to King Solomon's Mines.

That means I should also read Decolonising the Mind, although it sounds like hard going.
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Old 07-14-2020, 07:48 PM   #156
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But expecting someone to respect a choice that he finds immoral is not at all warranted. There’s a chasm there, between respecting someone’s ability to choose and respecting someone’s choice. Such is society and such, one hopes, is how moral suasion works.
So far as the other points in your post are concerned, I'm not going to endlessly repeat myself. It is quite obvious that we are not going to agree, nor does it seem likely that we can even agree to disagree.

So far as your above quoted statement is concerned, you seem to be confusing respect for someone's choice with agreeing with that choice. To respect someone's right to choose must involve respect for the choice they make, as opposed to agreeing with that choice.

What you describe is not how moral suasion, hopefully or not, works. It is how moral shaming works.

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Old 07-14-2020, 07:59 PM   #157
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Originally Posted by Thasaidon View Post
In an earlier post Rider Haggard was accused of racism in books.

I disagreed and gave an example from the last Allan Quatermain book, which would be inconceivable if he was such a racist.

I then asked for an example of racism in his books

No one gave any.

So later I asked again for an example of racism in his books

Agaiin No one gave any.

So I will ask one last time and if no examples are given, I will take it that the accusation is just empty virtue signalling.
I doubt you are going to be given any such examples. However, given that the word racism today seems to be used in a very imprecise and loosely defined manner, I would not be surprised if any examples given were debatable in any event. And, of course, such a debate would belong in Politics and Religion.
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Old 07-14-2020, 08:09 PM   #158
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Perry isn't really a good example because she's paid her debt to society and is unlikely to kill again, nor are her books particularly related to her ancient crime.

The thing about Rowling is that she's massively wealthy and influential, and people want to raise awareness that she is not Jolly Children's Book Writing Woman, but is in fact Dedicated Bigot Woman, and that her influence in society should be limited accordingly. This is only possible if people know she's a bigot, and because of the aforementioned wealth and influence and Disney wanting to make her IP into movies, this requires some sustained yelling.

People don't have to be ashamed of liking Harry Potter, but they should be wary of magnifying Rowling's position and influence.
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Old 07-14-2020, 08:12 PM   #159
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So far as the other points in your post are concerned, I'm not going to endlessly repeat myself. It is quite obvious that we are not going to agree, nor does it seem likely that we can even agree to disagree.

So far as your above quoted statement is concerned, you seem to be confusing respect for someone's choice with agreeing with that choice. To respect someone's right to choose must involve respect for the choice they make, as opposed to agreeing with that choice.

What you describe is not how moral suasion, hopefully or not, works. It is how moral shaming works.
Yep, I agree. I've always been of the idea that intellectual debate can be informative, but you have to respect the right of someone else to hold a view you may not agree with. Some seem to struggle with that idea.

I read a lot of books where I disagree with the author's view. I have no idea how one can hold an informed opinion if one doesn't. As someone who enjoys history, I've read a number of books by people I consider despicable. Albert Speer comes to mind. I've even read extracts from Mein Kampf. I don't know how you can claim to have any understanding of the lead up to WW II without doing so.
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Old 07-14-2020, 08:41 PM   #160
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...nor are her books particularly related to her ancient crime.
That's the whole point. Most problematic authors' books are not particularly related to their crimes or misdeeds. Certainly MZB's books are no more related than Perry's (yes, she has a pedophile as a character, but Perry has murderers as characters).
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Old 07-14-2020, 09:31 PM   #161
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Some of the discussion seems to be venturing at cross purposes, where some people are talking about a book that might be considered problematic rather than the author. The two don't always go together, or not obviously, which is largely how this thread got started.

Certainly there are reasons why we might choose books containing problematic (to the reader) themes. For example - as pwalker8 suggests - to try and better understand history, or political situations.

But if the books do not contain problematic themes then it only becomes a matter of whether we feel disposed to express our disapproval of the author with our actions - like deciding not to shop at a business we don't like. This may come at some personal cost, but it's our choice to pay it if we feel that is the right thing to do.

However, once an author is dead we can no long directly support them as individuals, so the question of whether it is right or wrong to do so no longer pertains to that person - unless we feel inclined to also punish their descendants/beneficiaries, and that seems problematic to me.
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Old 07-14-2020, 09:37 PM   #162
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This is only possible if people know she's a bigot, and because of the aforementioned wealth and influence and Disney wanting to make her IP into movies, this requires some sustained yelling.
Is that what abolitionism was? Sustained yelling? I don't think so.

I don't know what books may have influenced Rowling's opinions you don't like, and she might even find the one I'm going to recommend too extreme. But the last book I finished was this new title that Amazon is half-canceling (they sell it but refuse its advertising dollars):

Irreversible Damage

I found it to be surprising moderate and well-written considering the kind of publishing house that released it -- and not at all bigoted.

And if the free preview is enough to convince you otherwise, I welcome your sharing a book, about the subject, you loved as much as I loved this one.

P.S. Is this post going too far? Maybe, I fear. But Ross Douhat's latest column (see paragraph 10) convinced me that the way I have been posting -- generally in favor of free expression without giving any examples of unpopular ideas worth defending -- might be cowardly.
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Old 07-14-2020, 09:48 PM   #163
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Originally Posted by astrangerhere View Post
This is not hard. When the native Africans are referred to as "primitives" as well as the entire theme of the white saviors of Europe coming to "improve" the natives are obviously racist, even if they were the status quo of the time.

Did Haggard hold racist views? Almost certainly. He was involved in colonialism in South Africa, which was a whole bag of issues all on its own. Nevermind that modern African scholars deplore his work and others like it. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, a Kenyan scholar of race and literature, refers to Haggard as one of the "geniuses of racism" in his book Decolonizing the Mind.
In which of his books does Haggard refer to Africans as primitive? Quote a Passage I can check, as I have most of his books.

You are making an assertion without offering proof.

You are also assuming that the modern African scholars you quote do not have their own political agenda which is skewing their opinions.

Y
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Old 07-14-2020, 10:04 PM   #164
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Of course he was a racist by modern standards. No one has disputed that. The point is, was he a racist by the standards of his time? Personally I don't think so. Of course there are many people who cannot stand any standards or viewpoints more backward than the 21st century ones and have even accused authors of historical or fantasy fiction for creating characters who don't think like modern people. Now that's what I find ridiculous. If you want modern values, read fiction taking place in the modern world. It's perfectly understandable that someone who has been hurt by ignorant or reactionary beliefs doesn't want to read anything even faintly smelling of such views. But it's pretty ridiculous to accuse historical authors of holding the general views of their time.
Very Nice Post. You put it better then I probably would have.

I did not think "The Queen of Sheba's Ring" as good as "King Solomon's Mines" either. Have a look at "Eric Brighteyes' . If you have not read it as it is a Viking story and goes nowhere near Africa.
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Old 07-14-2020, 11:21 PM   #165
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The more I read this thread, the more I'm happy that I am completely anti-politically-correct. I'll read anything I like. Some here must take years to choose their next book to read, what with all the research, discussion and agonizing decision making about the author. I'm perfectly content to not even remember who the author is, without cheating and looking at the book cover. I haven't read the Harry Potter books yet, I'll get around to it someday, and when I do I won't give a rats a$$ that Rowling apparently hates [.... -ed]

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