Re: RARA-AVIS: Surprise Endings

From: Joy Matkowski (
Date: 13 Nov 2005

To get way off topic: When I was in fourth grade or so, my mother found out I'd been reading all the Earl Stanley Gardners in the town library, and for a time I was relegated to reading Grace Livingston Hills. I didn't notice anything wrong with them at the time, other than that they were insipid, boring Christian romances for girls, written early in the 1900s, less interesting than ketchup labels.
    Fast-forward some decades, and I found myself proofreading a Grace Livingston Hill reprint, "edited for modern audiences." Chunks of what seemed to be gratuitous racism had been copyedited out, but I personally found unacceptable the classism that still permeated the book. The good guys were well-groomed, and the villains were manual laborers. Unmanicured hands were evidence of bad character. (And of course females were wimps.)
    The racism, sexism, classism, and every other variety of bigotry of books from bygone eras (even much of the Old Testament) bother me, and I avoid them.


> I don't think there's a lot of casual
> racism of misogyny in Hammett's work, but I infer that
> it's not Hammett's work, per se, but the era, and the
> attitudes of that era, you object to. That's too bad,
> because you're denying yourself a hell of a lot of
> good reading, from Shakespeare to Dickens to Twain to
> Austen. To say nothing of all the great pulp writers
> who flourished between the wars.

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 13 Nov 2005 EST