RARA-AVIS: A (possibly but hopefully not too) offensive question

Jacques Oppinger (joppinger@hotmail.com)
Wed, 06 Jan 1999 20:34:08 PST De-lurking to pose a potentially indelicate question.

I'm making my way through _Cotton Comes to Harlem_ by Chester Himes and
am enjoying it immensely. One thing I find particular striking is his
constant use of the term "mother-raper" as in "this stupid mother-raper"
or "this mother-raping so-and-so". The funny thing is, I find this
phrase considerably more jarring than the phrase for which it is
obviously serving as a substitute. Odd. Anyway, was this a common
substitute in the genre at the time (published circa 1965, I believe)?
Was this particular term idiosyncratic to Himes? Did it have to do with
publishing standards of the day? Insignificant question in the grand
scheme of things but I'm genuinely curious. Sorry in advance to offend

Jacques Oppinger

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