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Saturday, 27 September 2014

The Past is another Country - they do things differently there.

Why do people buy a historical novel and expect it to have the attitudes and values of modern times?  I have known of authors who have written a modern story, picked it up and shoved it into some historical period where the values of modern times would not happen.
One of my favourite books is Gone With the Wind and although Scarlett O'Hara must be one of the most unsympathetic heroines in literature, one of the things I love about that book is its historical accuracy.  Scarlett pretending to be not very bright to catch a husband, not knowing what Charles Hamilton was doing to her on their wedding night. Not showing her bosom in the morning!  Wow!
Yet it seems that people read historical novels and expect attitudes to be those of today.
One silly woman declares that a book set in the sixteenth century has no respect for women.  Well, yeah!  The fact that women were the property of their husbands seems to have escaped people like that.  If you want respect for women, don't read an historical novel.
The daft thing is that today women are expected to leap into bed with a man they hardly know and will never see again, and they very often do, and if that is not disrespect for women, I cannot imagine what is.
Domestic violence is still common today, despite the law being on the side of battered wives.  They still keep going back for more, even though they have rights, which they certainly never had in the middle ages or even Victorian times.
I remember when they made rape illegal within marriage, though I can't recall how old I was then, probably in my late teens.  Before that, there was no such thing as rape within marriage, it was the man's right to have sex with his wife whether she liked it or not.  Even today, many men don't seem to realise they no longer have that right.
There was also no law against a man beating his wife even up to the early 20th century, and even then the police took little notice. Given all this, why on earth should anyone expect a novel set in the sixteenth century not to have these attitudes?

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