Bones of Faerie was love. It was quirky and different and fantasy in a way that I'm not used to. Reviews of it always make me smile, because I remember reading it, and it was so very much its own wonderful thing.
It's been a while since I read it, but it really does feel right-- it's not secret faeries, it's not sweet and lovely, it's what would probably be an option if Fairyland showed up on our doorsteps.
Yah, that's part of what I meant by the mental capacity remark. "I will teach these children basic herding, these children carpentry, and these children Latin! Because that's what their brains will hold due to their racial composition!" EW, step away from the kids, that guy!
I also thought of the use of 'gin' in the Australian song Now I'm Easy (by Eric Bogle). First two verses are:
For nearly sixty years I've been a cocky
Of droughts and fires and floods I've lived through plenty
This country's dust and mud have seen my tears and blood
But it's nearly over now, and now I'm easy
I married a fine girl when I was twenty
But she died in giving birth when she was thirty
No flying doctor then, just a gentle old black gin
But it's nearly over now, and now I'm easy
So assuming Bogle got it right, I get the sense that 'gin' can also be used with some affection, rather in the way 'nigra' was used in the US South by people who were trying to be polite and not racist, and who weren't quite succeeding.
Yah, I hear a lot of the not-succeeding in both of those examples.
Rather like standing on the first step out of the swimming pool: you're still completely immersed in water, but at least you've gotten one step out of there.
(I do think it's an important distinction, though: in the US South whether someone used 'nigra' or the other n- word tells you a lot about their attitudes and aspirations even though both are submerged deep within the context of personal and institutional racism. Similarly, you'd probably find this distasteful either way, but more informaiton on how 'gin' was used in context would say something about the character that we in this time and place might be missing.)
Sorry. Not meaning to lecture on characterization, since it's something you've thought about and worked on a lot more than I have.
See, for me the "I am a total racist but want you to think I am genteel" version reads in many ways as worse, not better. But different, I agree.
I think it depends how aware you are. To me there's a distinct difference between "I am a total racist and want you to think I'm genteel" posturings, like one of the nastier characters out of EF Benson (those aren't very racist because there's no one much of other races around, but that kind of brittle facade) and "I want to be kind but I'm so steeped in racism that I don't even know how to treat other races as people." I don't give credit for faking it, but I do for trying, even if they're clueless a about it. I can't comment on the Shute book because I haven't read it; the Bogle song gives me the impression of the 'cocky' getting along in neighborly fashion, though not full equality, with the aboriginals in his area because that's what you do when there's one farm and one tribe for miles around - and when the farmer isn't too stupid to see when he needs help from people who understand the land a lot better than he does.
"I'm not willing to treat you as a person, but I'm willing to take advantage of your superior skills because I'm in a position where I can make you let me do that" is not actually something I find neighborly. Not stupid, true. But not what I would call neighborly.
I guess I don't see it as being that binary, racist or not-racist. To move to a different literary example, I don't think Huck Finn saw Jim as an equal. I do think he saw him as a friend and was willing to both help and be helped by him.
I think Huck was racist. But I think he was a lot less racist than the society around him, and I think that step is an important step even if it's nowhere close to the full journey. I think what I'm trying to say in my ungainly way here is actually pretty similar to what ddb
has been saying about Heinlein, over in assorted comments on Tor.com. ("What's of interest, it seems to me, is the degree to which he attempted to overcome some of the social programming he got. That degree is considerable. And the degree to which he succeeded in overcoming them; a lesser degree.")
However, I've wandered pretty far from your original point - and I have no reason to think that Shute's characters made even the slightest attempt to overcome their programming. Which is, I agree, reprehensible and not fair to blame entirely on their time and place.
(I suspect you are talking about dd_b
Yes, I think that's important here: I have been talking about this in the context of a specific author, character, and book I am not willing to let off the hook. Sometimes people manage to start within a racist context and make some effort towards justice and come out with a racist result that's still better than what they started with. I think the problem with Beyond the Black Stump
for me--one of the several problems--is that Shute believes he has done that
without any particular evidence. He is incredibly, incredibly self-congratulatory about doing that. And I really, really, really don't think he has. I think that what he has done instead is at least as nasty and destructive if not more so.
Yeah, sorry, I was just wandering afield, trying to figure out the context of 'gin'. And of course it's also possible that it's used completely differently in your book vs the song I quoted.
I'm not sure you have the sense of "nigra" right. I lived in the Atlanta area in the 1950s and 1960s, and that was the pronunciation of "negro" used by, for instance, Ralph McGill. Who used his position as editor and then publisher of the Atlanta newspapers to support civil rights, and who I heard use that pronunciation from Dr. King's pulpit.http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/ArticlePrintable.jsp?id=h-2769
This was before "black" became common usage, and after "colored" fell into disfavor.
I could well be wrong - I wasn't there. My source is a Molly Ivins story about John Henry Faulk and J. Frank Dobie, who had grown up hearing polite people say "nigra" and who, on being about to go study outside the state of Texas and having heard that polite people elsewhere said "negro" when they wanted to be taken seriously as anti-racists, solemnly practiced the word over and over so they wouldn't make a mistake and use the wrong word out of habit. Ivins actually spelled it out phonetically, something like "knee-grow".
Could it just be a matter of different accents? (Or, of course, it could equally well be a matter of me being completely wrong, especialy as I'm working from memory and don't have the Ivins book here.)
I think it was more of an accent or dialect thing. I noticed it because we moved there from the Chicago area when I was seven or eight, and I'd never heard it before.
What's your favorite Guy Gavriel Kay book?
Tigana, I think. I've been meaning to reread it. It's been ages. I just got a lovely new trade paper edition for my favorite 16-year-old for her birthday.