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Conclusion Sep. 24th, 2013 @ 04:25 pm
I think I am going to declare reading list bankruptcy. Four months is just not feasible to catch up on. This means that all of you are new and exciting to me in certain ways.

I'm reading a lot of GK Chesterton at the moment. It's interesting and fun and lovely, but also fascinating in a way I hadn't expected: the racism.

More to the point, the part where most of the time, it's the lack of racism, given the era in which he wrote. (Note: This is not flawless, unless you're taking into account quite a bit of nuance in the writing, at certain points, and if your familiarity with a century-old dialect of English is imperfect, some of that nuance is going to burn. Plus, though it's never attributed as any kind of worthy sentiment, very occasionally certain words and phrases occur which some would deservedly find offensive and painful. The fact that Chesterton uses certain vile epithets in an ironic, "are you noticing how stupid these people are, here" sort of way doesn't mean it won't retain the capacity to hurt.)

Possibly slightly incoherent, definitely mildly spoilery, might as well cut. )

Father Brown is also the first fictional quasi-detective I've found in fiction since Lord Peter who is actually, genuinely likable. He's not smug or superior about things, and he's not out to be right or to get into other people's business for his own sake; he cares about people, and is often called in to their personal business by reason of his being a priest.

And he's not too perfect, even in his general tendency to be nice to people and try to think the best of them and be friendly. You get lines like: "But Father Brown had to tell himself sharply that one should be in charity even with those who wax their pointed beards, who have small gloved hands, and who speak with perfectly modulated voices." Just a little reminder that thinking kindly of people is not necessarily purely a native gift, so much as an attitude one can hold deliberately.

Oh, actually, there's also the lack of sexism, in curious ways. For example, in one of the first stories I read, there's a male character who is compared, at a number of points, to an old maid, and aspects of his behaviour and personality are referred to in terms of being "feminine"...

... and these are positive attributes, of a man who, in the story, is a VC and an unquestionable, absolute hero. He's just not a glory-seeking hero. His is the heroism of: "Someone needs to do this dangerous and frightening thing. I guess that someone should be me."

He even ends up marrying the beautiful woman who features in the story.

Most of the significant characters in the stories are still men, but in an odd way, it tends to seem like the women aren't involved as much as they might be because they're not silly enough for such foolishness.
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