(urth) Wolfe: Misogynist or Realist?

Daniel D Jones ddjones at riddlemaster.org
Tue Oct 17 14:50:25 PDT 2006

On Tuesday 17 October 2006 16:32, Jack Redelfs wrote:
> Vis-a-vis "The Death of Doctor Island," webster.com gives one
> definition of offensive thusly: "giving painful or unpleasant sensations."
> So, it appears that a work can be deemed offensive without any
> question of the authors personal motivations or opinions.

It seems to me that there is an unavoidable connotation of disapproval and an 
associated blame or culpability when one describes an action (or the result 
of an action) as offensive.

> >It's just that Wolfe seems to be really fond of including misogynist
> >characters and situations in his stories.
> I think that's simply his brutal realism. I never read an author who was
> less interested in easy escapes and happy endings. His characters
> suffer, and they suffer a lot. Look at history and the world around you.
> Is misogyny the exception or the rule in human relations? The bad
> guys do very bad things to women, and they usually get away with it.

Agreed.  The reader is supposed to be offended by the actions of certain 
characters or the environment in which some characters are immersed.  

> This view of the world is cognizant with Wolfe's catholicism. The
> devil rules the world of flesh, and God rules the world of spirit.
> It makes his stories more gripping and his more characters more
> real. When I read about characters that float through life as though
> in a cloud, without any pain, I wonder "why should I care?"

Agreed again.  Literature is driven by conflict.  It's one of it's most 
fundamental characteristics.  Without conflict, you don't have a story.  
Wolfe is simply very good at creating powerful, visceral conflicts that 
affect our most primitive emotions.  

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