(urth) Wolfe: Misogynist or Realist?

Dan'l Danehy-Oakes danldo at gmail.com
Wed Oct 18 11:06:04 PDT 2006

On 10/18/06, Mo Holkar / UKG <lists at ukg.co.uk> wrote:

> I am not such a person, unfortunately... but I think it's interesting
> to compare Wolfe in this respect with another of my favourite SF
> writers, Philip Dick. In much of Dick's mature work there's this
> recurrent figure of the beautiful woman with long, dark hair who
> maliciously betrays the love of the protagonist. You don't have
> to be a psychoanalyst to suspect that Dick had some particular
> neurosis he was exercising there, particularly when you note that
> he formed unhappy marriages with a number of women also
> fitting that description.

For what it's worth, Dick himself eventually decided that the
image of "the dark-haired woman" in his writing was all about
his twin sister, who died shortly after birth.

> Positive images of women to put alongside these negative
> ones are very rare -- so I think it's fair to describe this writing
> as having a misogynistic trait, albeit a fairly tightly-focused one.

Positive images of women in Dick? H'mmm. I think most of his
characters, male and female, are "positive," just not "heroic." If
you'd said this about, say, Barry Malzberg, now...

> The handling of women in Wolfe's writing seems to me to be more
> broadly negative. He is quite capable of creating positive women
> characters, but he seems rarely to choose to do so. Instead his
> women characters often seem to be defined by their status as one
> kind or another of sexual object. While I think it's dangerous to
> impute opinions and beliefs to a writer on the basis of what they
> write, you do have to wonder what's going through his mind as he's
> composing some of the passages.

Yep. That's totally the direction I'm heading in these days.

Dan'l Danehy-Oakes, writer, trainer, bon vivant
Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open
sewer and die.
  - Mel Brooks

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