FIND in
<--prev V304 next-->
From: "Chris" 
Subject: Re: (urth) Rape in Wolfe
Date: Mon, 21 Apr 2003 16:46:25 +0000

This was some time ago, and I realize you may not be responding directly to 
me, but I feel it's necessary to revisit the comment I originally made which 
spawned the conversation, if for no other reason than to put rant mode in 

This reminds me (in a way only loosely connected with what you've said) of
something that I find a little disturbing in Wolfe's novels- the frequency
of rape committed by his protagonists or major characters. Which is NOT, I
must stress, to say that I think it's some kind of wish fulfillment or
fetish on his part, it's not presented that way at all... it's not
gratuitous, and when it does appear it tends to be a major thematic element,

I guess what I'm saying is that the frequency with which the "Rape and
Forgiveness" theme comes up makes me a little morbidly uncomfortable.

I can only speak for myself, but I don't think anyone else was displaying 
the attitude you're referring to, and I took pains to explicitly say that I 
was *not*.

I'm fully aware of exactly what you're talking about. However, I'm not 
talking about any single event in his stories and I'm not just howling "RAPE 
IS BAD" (duh). Nonetheless, the frequency of the theme (rather than any 
particular instance of it) has made me uncomfortable, whether that's right 
or wrong - I can't really help that, though perhaps discussing it may make a 

Given that, taking a look at what you've said I would say that it does *not* 
appear to be used as a matter of historical flavor or general depiction of 
the barbaric lands his stories take place in, because these are not just 
committed by random ruffians or side characters. Sometimes (often, I think) 
the characters involved are ones that we're sympathetic to. It seems to be 
more making a point about the savagery present in every individual mind, 
even those which are seemingly "nice", rather than placing the danger out 
there in the world at large. This is not exactly an unprecedented thought 
either, when it comes down to it.

If I break down my discomfort based on this, I get two general, related 
questions. First, is this negative aspect of the human soul (independent of 
its truth - I don't really disagree with the truth of it) necessarily 
central to most of Wolfe's longer stories? I'm not really sure. Second, if 
this negative aspect *is* a necessary point to bring out in the story he's 
trying to tell, for what reasons can we infer that he's expressing it in the 
*particular* form of sexual violence. Archetypal, perhaps? Again, I don't 

This isn't really an essential thread, though I don't think it's necessarily 
an unworthy one. I don't mind if this discussion continues or is dropped, 
but if it is continued I would just like it to not be continued in the terms 
of the rant mode. Respectfully,


>Rant mode turned on:
>Hey, look, get a grip.
>         Wolfe is dealing with human depravity, almost all the time.
>         He has some really bad women.
>         He has some really bad men.
>         Guess what really bad men, and even men who are not so bad, have 
>been doing to helpless women for thousands of years? Right. You got it.
>         Wolfe knows history. Rape is relatively rare in modern warfare, IF 
>the army is American or British or Israeli or Western European. It's par 
>for the course in all the rest of human history. Like in former Jugoslavia 
>during the 1990s.
>         A friend of mine visited Pakistan a few years ago. He said you see 
>virtually no women in public. Why? because any unaccompanied woman is "fair 
>game" for rape.
>         Wolfe's rapes are offensive. They're supposed to be. You're 
>supposed to feel like vomiting.
>         But they are NOT gratuitous.
>Now, rant mode turned off.

Add photos to your messages with MSN 8. Get 2 months FREE*.  


<--prev V304 next-->