Propaganda, Narnia and Kipling
Posted by Linden on August 06, 1998 at 21:16:33:
In response to Propaganda, written by Art on August 06, 1998 at 08:47:33
] ] Sorry, but I don't like the Narnia books. I agree that they are well written, but they are full of some fairly blatant propaganda that IMHO makes them unsuitable for children who might not recognise it.
] The problem is that very few writers share our particular views 100% on every social issue under the sun, and if we decide not to like a writer, or even not read a writer at all, because of those discrepancies we're going to have a rather narrow range of choices. After all, consider, Lewis may well be RIGHT about the things you take issue with: a disturbing possibility, no doubt, but one with interesting implications for your refusing to read him to your children. Kipling is difficult to read, at times, precisely because so much of his view - he is, after all, quite racist - is so much at odds with ours. And yet he is a great and very enjoyable writer, with much to say that speaks to us even now. And further, children are more resilient than you think, and you are perhaps disrespectful of their ability to think and question on their own when you "shield" them from thoughts you yourself disagree with.
Sorry, I didn't stress the point clearly enough: I didn't shield my kids from Narnia - I just made sure that, when they read them, we discussed the implications of what he was saying.
I felt free to state my own views and they felt free to state theirs: letting kids wander through life or libraries without giving them guidance is irresponsible. My kids are both bookaholics and it would be quite impossible to control their reading even if I wanted to (there's a subtle but vital difference between "guidance" and "control").
One of the things all kids (and adults) need to learn is to read critically: to be able to take the good aspects of an author and discount the bad side, to disagree with some of the things an author says, and to be able to spot gratuitous propaganda.
In that sense, "Narnia" is useful reading material for children, since the issues are pretty obvious: a good training ground for this sort of critical thinking.
I agree that one should not shield kids from any point of view, but one should armour them to do their own fighting. So I didn't fret too much when my son brought home "Mein Kampf" (a few years after his "Narnia" period, I should add). He's capable of working things out for himself.
By the way, may I take issue with your assessment of Kipling? I used to believe that he was racist until I taught Eng Lit in Nigeria in a school which had an ageing collection of books from the colonial period, and not much money to buy new books, so we had to make do with what was available. To my amazement, the students loved Kipling and Walter Scott! So I took a closer look at them, and found that there was a lot more going for them than I had believed. I don't think that Kipling was much of a racist for his time, though he was an ardent colonialist, I agree.
"But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the Earth!"
That may be a sexist statement, but it's not a racist one.
- Yet more propaganda Art 08:45:51 8/07/98 (6)
- and sometimes a cigar is just a cigar :-) (nfm) Jane 23:18:10 8/07/98 (1)
- But it's always a Smoke (I hope you got the reference) nfm Art 00:05:20 8/08/98 (0)
- Not at all Constanza 11:54:30 8/07/98 (2)
- Once again...... Alexandra 11:06:12 8/07/98 (0)
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