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after the watershed

A remarkably sneering Guardian article on the Woman's Hour Watershed Fiction poll, which ignores the fact that the whole poll was just part of months of discussion on the show. To pick at the final books for their supposed failure to match the exact wording of the initial poll, which asked readers to pick a book which "has spoken to you on a personal level; it may have changed the way you look at yourself, or simply made you happy to be a woman" is missing the point (another point which is missed in the writer's analysis is the "spoken to you on a personal level" bit, which he (I think) conveniently ignores for sneering purposes). The analyses of the final books themselves are equally idiotic. I know how easy lazy journalism is - I can't pretend I've never been guilty of it myself - but to look at the final results of a months-long debate while ignoring the debate itself is just stupid. As is looking to Julie Burchill for words of wisdom on anything, ever.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
spacetart
Dec. 9th, 2004 05:25 am (UTC)
He can't see why The Handmaid's Tale might have made someone happy to be a woman? When the whole point of the book is about a woman who becomes strong enough to try to escape the system? Ditto with To Kill a Mockingbird. It wa such a refreshingly different portrayal of a girl, how could you not be inspired and reflective?

leedy
Dec. 9th, 2004 05:28 am (UTC)
Yes, that's a remarkably crap article.

And oh God, you've just reminded me that we will be spending the festive season with our parents' Burchill-A-Like cat soon....
hfnuala
Dec. 9th, 2004 05:29 am (UTC)
After their totally missing the point summary of To Kill a Mocking Bird I have no respect for anything this person says.
stellanova
Dec. 9th, 2004 05:35 am (UTC)
Yes, that was the most idiotic one.
biascut
Dec. 9th, 2004 08:38 am (UTC)
The Guardian is really going in for bollocks literary criticism today. There's also Jonathan Freedland discovering that - OMG! - The Merchant of Venice is an anti-Semitic play! Well, you know, yes. I can kind of see his point, if it's really the case that both the film's director and the critics are smiling sweetly and ignoring the anti-Semitism, but I'm really not convinced that it's completely revolutionary to say that it's anti-Semitic. I don't really understand why everyone wants Shakespeare to be un-anti-Semitic and un-racist. I mean, yes, he's the First Great Humanist, but it's still the sixteenth century.

Mind you, perhaps Joanathan Freedland has got a point. I mean, we did Othello for A level without ever discussing racism. The tendency at A level is to go for "yes it is racist" or "no it's not racist", rather than considering race as a category and seeing how it's used and how understandings of race have changed over the past four hundred years.
stellanova
Dec. 9th, 2004 09:24 am (UTC)
Yeah, stating that the play is anti-semitic is hardly a news flash, and it doesn't even look like the play's producers are in any way condoning that aspect of it - Freedland's only real point seems to be - but it's anti-semitic! Which it is, but that's hardly newsworthy. Like you said, it's the 16th century - I'd be pleased and impressed if the Merchant of Venice was a play which asked for more tolerance for Jewish people, but I'm not vaguely surprised that it doesn't. My class studied it when we were in first year of secondary school, and I remember discussing the anti-semitism then. We watched the '70s BBC version (did you watch those BBC Shakespeares at school?) which included a heart-breaking scene of Shylock being forced to kiss a cross which all us 13-year-old Catholics found terribly wrong and sad. If a bunch of first years can pick up on the anti-semitism and find it wrong and disturbing, it's hardly impressive for an adult literary critic to do so.
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