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BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?

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Subject: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 07:22 AM

This thread is inspired by the music discussion thread "Are racist, but traditional songs OK?" which discusses the English ballad "Little Sir Hugh" and its anti-Semitism. MtheGM's comment about Oliver Twist and the character of Fagin, who was inspired by the historical figure Isaac "Ikey" Solomon, led me to ask the question; Does anyone here believe that a character created as a racial, ethnic, or religious stereotype can be depicted in a reworking of a story, emphasising religious or racial aspects, without reinforcing a stereotype?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: artbrooks
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 07:58 AM

Perhaps. I'd think it would depend a great deal on whether or not the original stereotype was intended to be positive or negative. Consider the character of Tarzan. In Burroughs' original telling, he was certainly a racial/ethnic stereotype - a 'white'/English boy, raised from infancy by great apes, who taught himself to read and who somehow acquired superior moral standards in the process - even though his only human examples were a very brutish tribe of African natives. This has been retold many times in the movies and TV, and the character of the Africans has evolved, but Tarzan himself remains much the same. Or perhaps I missed the thrust of your question.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 09:08 AM

In a retelling of a story anything can be changed. That could involve reinforcing a stereotype, challenging a stereotype or changing to a different stereotype.

Maybe it might be better to tell a new story, doing it the way the author thinks it really should be done.

The problem with stereotypes is not that they are necessarily inaccurate portrayals of individuals, but that they are taken as representative of a much wider group - a race, a nationality etc. Sometimes that is the intention of the author, frequently it is not. Dickens protested strongly against the suggestion that he intended Fagin to be taken as a representative Jew, any more than Bill Sikes was intended to be taken as a representative Englishman.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: Bobert
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 10:33 AM

If one is honest then there is no other way to tell the story... I mean, there are history books being used in Virginia that don't use the term slavery... Then we wonder why kids grow up and don't know squat about our history... If you are going to tell a story that deals with the past, there's a place for the fiction but the setting needs to be somewhat accurate...

B~


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 07:12 PM

Well, I don't know if Dickens consciously intended Fagin to be a negative Jewish stereotype, but I think he was drawing on Jewish stereotypes to create a Jewish character, who was based on newspaper stories and possibly other things that he had read. But I do know that this story isn't really a faithful retelling of it as of Oliver Twist in a crime story style, set in a retro-futuristic world.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 11:14 PM

*that I'm doing*.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 11:26 PM

BTW, Ikey Solomon ( the inspiration for Fagin) was known as "The prince of fences". he was very different in real life to his fictionalized portrayal- he didn't die on the gallows, (partly because of petitions from people in the East End of London, who liked him and his own skill as an escape artist), he was tall and well-dressed, and he was a prominent underworld figure, in contrast to Dickens' character who isn't all that powerful, well-liked, or loyal and is a totally negative stereotype.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 15 Oct 11 - 01:52 AM

i.e. dirty, a cheapskate, betrays everyone... whether Dickens to reinforce a stereotype, he unintentionally did.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 15 Oct 11 - 06:15 AM

Refresh.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Oct 11 - 10:11 AM

You could always have Oliver Twist and his rescuer Jewish as well, to balance things. That wouldn't even entail any significant change in the plot, just something Dickens never got round to telling.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 15 Oct 11 - 01:06 PM


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 15 Oct 11 - 02:15 PM

Why don't we just ban everything that happened before 1985 ? That way we'll offend no one.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: BTNG
Date: 15 Oct 11 - 03:09 PM

Wasn't it George Eliot (a lovely woman who said what she mean't and mean't what she said) who said, and I quote, "We cannot reform our forefathers"? So I really wish the politically inept would stop trying, it's getting very tiresome when one has to watch what one says with out fear of offending some poor little darling. Here's the obvious answer to the aforesaid politically inept, you don't like what some people have to say....? don't listen and STOP trying to tell people what to say and what to do!!

BTNG


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 15 Oct 11 - 06:13 PM

Incidentally, it isn't just modern (ie 21st century people) who are offended by Fagin's portrayal. A short time after Dickens wrote the novel, Jewish readers wrote to him to discuss their opinions of the character. So, the fact that Fagin is a Jewish stereotype (and the character's connection to Isaac Solomon, "Prince of Fences") has been realised for a long, long time. It isn't just something that's only been picked up on recently.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 15 Oct 11 - 06:21 PM

BTW, I am a Chinese-Australian woman, and if a White writer wrote a book with a criminal character referred to only as "The Chinese", or "the Chinaman" (old term, I know) I would be offended. Basically because no-one calls a Chinese man, or a man of Chinese descent, a "Chinaman" in the 21st century (I hope) but also it's offensive to only refer to a person by their ethnicity/religion/ancestry, especially if they are the only charcter with that background in your story, and everyone else (from the dominant culture) isn't referred to by their background .


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Oct 11 - 06:24 PM

The thing is is, for most unfavourable stereotypesreal individuals exist who match them, and accordingly, fictitious individuals as well.

The same applies for favourable stereotypes, which come in for less criticism.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 15 Oct 11 - 09:40 PM

I don't know why this happens (if I come off as offensive I apologise) but why, whenever someone posts a thread on this forum about controversial topics, especially related to racism and ethnicity, is there always a poster who complains "political correctness " when racism/stereotyping is the subject, and act as though everyone in the past was unaware of racial stereotypes? I'm not talking about literally taking Oliver Twist <\i> and rewriting all the anti-Semitic language, but about something else.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: meself
Date: 15 Oct 11 - 10:55 PM

It's a favourite hobby-horse, bete-noir, bogey-man, and/or pet peeve (choose one) of many of our members (particularly, it seems, those of a certain locale that shall remain nameless for fear of giving offence). Don't try to fight it, unless you're ready a very long battle.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 15 Oct 11 - 11:35 PM

Another interesting possibility- slavery was abolished in the British Empire in the 1830s, when "Oliver Twist" was set.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 16 Oct 11 - 08:03 AM

The 'Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade' was passed in 1807 in Britain.

The 1833 Act you mention:

"In 1833 Parliament passed a further act to abolish slavery in the British West Indies, Canada and the Cape of Good Hope (southern Africa), meaning that it was now illegal to buy or own a person. However, slavery continued in other areas of the British Empire including the territories run by the East India Company, Ceylon (modern day Sri Lanka) and St Helena. Between 1808 and 1869 the Royal Navy's West Africa Squadron seized over 1,600 slave ships and freed about 150,000 Africans but, despite this, it is estimated that a further 1 million people were enslaved and transported throughout the 19th Century."

FYI


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 16 Oct 11 - 08:20 AM

"but also it's offensive to only refer to a person by their ethnicity/religion/ancestry, especially if they are the only charcter with that background in your story, and everyone else (from the dominant culture) isn't referred to by their background ."

For christ's sake, I am a white Church of England (perish the thought) Englishman - that is what the hell I am. You are a half China-woman - who cares?????


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 16 Oct 11 - 11:06 AM

And everybody comes from somewhere!!!


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Oct 11 - 11:34 AM

If there's only one American (say) in the story, and all the others are English (say) I can't see why it'd be offensive to refer to him or her as "the American" without feeling it necessary to add "English" to every other character.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 16 Oct 11 - 12:08 PM

A South American probably would find it """"""offensive"""""""!!!!!


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 16 Oct 11 - 06:13 PM

Thanks, 999!


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Oct 11 - 07:53 PM

It is the constant stereotyping of people from Liechtenstein that really pisses me off! What has Liechtenstein ever done to deserve such abuse?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: BTNG
Date: 16 Oct 11 - 07:58 PM

"What has Liechtenstein ever done to deserve such abuse?"

probably the same as Andorra ,just because it exists


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MarkS
Date: 16 Oct 11 - 07:59 PM

Their most popular song is "The Liechtensteiner Polka." Isn't that enough?
Ja Ja, Ja Ja Mein Schatz!


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 16 Oct 11 - 09:07 PM

LH, we gotta have a loooooooong talk.

##################################

Stereotypes can be both a help and a hindrance. I doubt "All in the Family" would have been half the enlightening TV show it was without stereotypes. Its humour depended on preconceived ideas people had of other people. It helped cause a nation to examine some of its prejudices at a time it needed that. That time is no longer.

Leon Uris used stereotypes to great effect in what I consider to be his best novel, "Mila 18", one of the more powerful books anyone ever wrote. He established characters and then deconstructed them before the readers eyes until we were left with human beings--foibles and admirable qualities--and the turmoil of having our earlier ideas presented naked, and we had to deal with them.

Then of course we have the opposite so frequent in conversations with people who never DID get it: Well, you know what THEY'RE like.

Little Hawk in fact has written volumes of material about characters we can all identify with. Chongo, who can make remarks that would otherwise piss people off because they were attacked or called to account for some really stupid thing they said--but, how pissed off can ya be. Chongo is a friggin' monkey! Or Shane and his idiot brother, and for a year I fell for that. LH was able to create the 'stereotypical' Canuck (if you've ever seen these guys ) with Shane, and as Canadians we mostly laughed at it and with it, thinking at once it was funny because each of us knows people just like that and simultaneously thinking 'only a cretin would believe this sh#t' of all Canadians. We find the same self-effacing humour with Newfoundlanders, Maritimers, Albertans, Saskatchewaneons/Saskatchewenians/Saskatcheweeans people from Saskatchewan and even people from New Brunswick.

Then the ugly obverse of the coin: those who know only the stereotype and knowing that extend their insight to all people of the race, creed, colour, sex, age, religion, location, etc. Ain't much can be done about that. They'll die off soon enough.

And LH, I know Chongo is an ape--I just don't give a rat's a$$. Back to ya, bro.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Oct 11 - 09:34 PM

You got it covered well there, 999. Yup, stereotypes can be used either to raise the consciousness of people about prejudice...or to promote prejudice. It depends how you use them and with what intention.

I find Chongo a fascinating character, because he is "every-ape". All the issues that get Chongo worked up are the same issues we find humans getting worked up over, and for the same reasons. He wants respect. He wants equality. He wants security, protection under the law, and a means to earn a good living. He wants to treated as an individual, not a stereotype....and yet....he is NOT entirely free of prejudice himself! Matter of fact, he has a number of pretty noticeable prejudices. So he is not only everyape...he's everyman...but in a form we can all feel relatively comfortable with, since it is one step removed from the stuff we actually have to deal with in our real daily lives.

As for Shane, I find the guy kind of likable...mainly because he is so innocent. He really doesn't get how irresponsible and dumb (though basically trivial) his behaviour is. He thinks he's on the fast track to being a really cool and successful dude, when nothing could be farther from the truth. This protects Shane, in a way, because if he could see himself as most others see him, the poor guy would just be destroyed by it. His innocence is his armour against the many disappoints in life. Let us hope it gets him through "the glory years" of his youth. If he's lucky, he'll die still relatively young in some incredibly stupid way before inevitable old age and disillusionment bring him crashing down to hard reality.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 16 Oct 11 - 09:56 PM

BTW, as I've said before, Dickens took a real-life fence (Ikey Solomon) as inspiration. but he made the character loosely based on him a stereotype- unintentionally or not.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Oct 11 - 10:05 PM

I forgot to mention the one thing Chongo probably wants most (at least after respect)....he wants to be loved (Preferably by a long-legged and really classy female of the human persuasion). This is a Don Quixote-like passion on his part, unlikely to ever be attained, but everyone should have a dream, right? ;-D He never really got over his first sight of those loooooong high-heeled legs going by on the streets of New York. King Kong was affected much the same way...but the poor guy was just too damn BIG!

A tragic tale if ever there was one.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 16 Oct 11 - 11:26 PM

Anyone want to comment on the comments on Ikey Solomon?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Oct 11 - 11:53 PM

Regarding Ikey Solomon and the character Fagin...I haven't read the book in question. It would have been a very different social climate with different attitudes when Dickens wrote his books. The mere fact that a Jewish character displays some bad character traits is not necessarily an attack on Jews per se. It is possible, after all, for people of bad character to belong to ANY ethnic or cultural group, isn't it? If so, it's possible to write about such a character without attacking everyone else in his ethnic or cultural or national group by association. Now, if one were to depict ALL Jews as having some sort of bad characteristics (as Hitler and Goebbels, for example, did), then it's definitely an attack on Jews in a general sense. If it's one character, it isn't necessarily an attack on Jews....but a depiction of a bad character, period.

If we get to the point where we are literally afraid to depict ANY single member of some particular group of people as having a bad character...whether they be Jews, Blacks, Whites, Germans, Americans, Italians, Native Americans, or whatever the heck they are.....then I'd say we've painted ourselves into a very uncomfortable and unrealistic corner, and one that cannot be justified or sustained in the light of the whole human experience.

A people do not become "perfect" or "above criticism" merely because they have suffered severe persecution at some point in their past history. That was, in fact, the kind of exclusive thinking that motivated the Nazis. They saw themselves as a very special people ("Aryans")...and a people who had been terribly persecuted by the Treaty of Versailles, the victorious Allies, and supposedly by Jews, Communists, etc. after WWI. Their exaggerated sense of their own historical martyrdom following WWI drove them to martyr other people in WWII to "even the score". It's not a wise precedent to follow, no matter who you are and no matter how badly your people suffered in the past. It usually leads to some other group of people being persecuted by the last victimized group, now that they've got the upper hand. The pain gets passed on, and a whole new set of historical martyrs is created. Presently their children go out and do it to someone else. (The sad history of Ireland is a prime example of that sort of thing.)

Somewhere along the line someone has to have the sense not to react in that fashion if the chain of violence is ever to be broken.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Oct 11 - 12:15 AM

"BTW, as I've said before, Dickens took a real-life fence (Ikey Solomon) as inspiration. but he made the character loosely based on him a stereotype- unintentionally or not."

Problem with that statement is that writer's of his quality do not do things by accident. It was intentional. Perhaps misdirected, but when he wrote it he meant it. True, he did broadside articles. He was, after all, a writer, and he had to make a living. 'Great Expectations' was just a cliff-hanger (we should all have cliffs like that from which to hang) and each week one could get the next installment for a half penny.

At a young age I would go to the First Pres(byterian Church) to watch feature movies, but before each feature was a continuing chapter in Grade C movies: what would be denigrated by movie critics today as tripe because there was just plot: no character development, no setting to speak of, and certainly no theme. But as kids we were entranced by the hero hanging over a pit filled with tigers--despite the over-all setting being Africa, lord knows where in Africa, but the Dark Continent nevertheless--and despite there being no tigers in Africa. We knew that, but we suspended our 'belief' and got into the flick. After ten or so minutes the film would come to an end and the guy running the movie projector would suffer the 'slings and arrows of outrageous fortune' (boos, hisses and whatnot) and as the lights dimmed even further, we slunk deeper into our seats to prepare for the main event, not forgetting that NEXT week we would return to witness the horrible demise of our hero, only recently seen as soon-to-be lunch for ferocious cats with appetites greater than those we exorcised on popcorn, chips, candy bars and pop. The reality of writing is that sometimes a story is just a story. Other times it becomes an extended metaphor, and yet at others, a devastating exploration of the deeper shades in the bowels of 'man'.

I think you have a wonderful idea. Write it.

Remember the line from The G, the B and the U: If you're gonna shoot, shoot! Don't talk.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 17 Oct 11 - 12:16 AM

That Guest was me.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 17 Oct 11 - 12:34 AM

"statement is that writer's of his quality"

Be the first to find the punctuation error in that and you win a week in NYC. Be the second and you win--yes, you guessed it--TWO weeks in NYC. (Where's Bonzo when ya really need him.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Oct 11 - 12:49 AM

Misplaced apostrophe.

Please PM me for my address to send two {I insist my wife must come too} tickets, hotel bookings (either the Plaza or the Waldorf Astoria would be acceptable) &c, to NYC, which we both happen to love greatly.

Mind you, it's an expensive place. I take your offer to include a few $k spending money also to make the most of what the City has to offer...

~M~


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 17 Oct 11 - 01:23 AM

Cheque's in the mail. BUT, you get ONE week only. (I should have remembered the damned Brits would be awake at this hour, and that you'd be one of them!)

I love the place, too. Not the cockroaches, Michael, but the 'thing' it has. I hope to go once more, because I 'grew up' there, and I've missed its steadying influence ever since I left, left again, and left the last time. It would be one of this life's great pleasures to walk some of those streets in your company. I wish.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 17 Oct 11 - 01:55 AM

I've just realised that "öliver Twist" is basically "Hansel and Gretel" without the cannibalism and set in urban England instead of Germany. I mean, just look: Kid(s) is abandoned/away from their parents/adult caretakers because of the adults' cruelty (in the pre-Grimms version it was the mother instead of the stepmother that convinced the father to abandon H&G) because of not having enough food. Some help leads the kid(s)to the house of a harmless-looking adult, who in reality plans to harm them. In the end, the kid(s)escape from the villain with a lot of money. So, I have had another idea for a long time. Combine Oliver Twist and Hansel and Gretel to create something original. And set it in America (I've always wanted to go to America, particularly NYC. Maybe someday I will)


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 17 Oct 11 - 01:59 AM

Oh yes, and with one kid instead of two.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 17 Oct 11 - 06:10 AM

BTW, the real Ikey Solomon was apparently very religious- strange for someone whose career was organised crime!


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Oct 11 - 07:53 AM

"the real Ikey Solomon was apparently very religious" If Dickens had put that in, imagine the accusations of antisemitic stereotyping...
..................

Certain types of religosity can go along with organised criminality quite comfortably. As a kind of insurance policy for example. Or you have the "social bandit" model, where the criminality is seen as a kind of justified rebellion, on behalf of a downtrodden community. Robin Hood needs Friar Tuck.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Oct 11 - 08:11 AM

...Oh yes, and with one kid instead of two. ..

Shouldn't that be 1.6 kids and a dog?

Sometimes stereotypes are so true. Remember the German flying the plane reading the instruction book in "Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines"?

Bert


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Oct 11 - 08:25 AM

National/racial/religious/gender/etc stereotypes come in sets. The chances are most people resemble at least one out of the relevant set.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST,Jim Knowledge
Date: 17 Oct 11 - 11:03 AM

I `ad one of them film directors in my cab once. `e wanted to go to Elstree Studios to finish off that Roman epic about gladiators.
I said, " `ere Cecil. As a matter of interest do you change things when you`re re-telling a story on film?"
`e said, " Too true, we do sometimes, Jim. When the Barbers Union got wind of us doing the first "Sweeny Todd" film they went ape demanding changes. They claimed they would all be tarred with the same brush and go broke so instead of being a barber and slitting throats old Sweeny ran a stray dogs `ome and made `is pies from them!!"

Whaddam I Like??


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 17 Oct 11 - 05:15 PM

McGrath of Harlow, do you mean that some religious people are in organised crime because it fits? And I don't know if you were being serious, but why would Dickens making Fagin religious make it more anti-Semitic? Dickens already was being accused of promoting anti-Semitism by even portraying Fagin .


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Oct 11 - 05:28 PM

It might not "fit", but it's never been that unusual for successful criminals to give money to good causes, including religious charities etc. Blood money, PR, insurance...

I'm sure that if Fagin had been presented as a pious and actively religious Jew, at the same time as running his fencing and thieving organisation, that would been seen as a direct attack on Judaism as such.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 17 Oct 11 - 05:32 PM

Okay, so the question for me is "Can I/is it possible to portary Fagin as closer to Ikey Solomon than Dickens' portrayal without coming off as anti-Semitic?"


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 17 Oct 11 - 09:23 PM

*Portray*


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 18 Oct 11 - 12:25 AM

Solomons might have been a 'trigger' for Fagin, being much in the news at the time as a Jewish criminal with underworld connections; but Dickens clearly didn't intend him as a direct representation. That is not how creative novelists work. Any more than Jackie Collins, who writes Hollywood-based novels of sexual intrigue, intends any of her characters to be a direct representation of any particular Hollywood star, tho obviously some amalgam of characteristics must go to each. My first wife Valerie, who died 4+ years ago, was a novelist, and has much to say about this way of working in one of her more metafictional [i.e. deliberately introspective as to the techniques employed] books called Culture Shock (1988).

~M~


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 Oct 11 - 02:25 AM

Yes, that's why I said " loosely based ". I just want to know if it's possible to portray fagin as religious, more like Ikey Solomon , without coming off as anti-Semitic??


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 18 Oct 11 - 06:01 AM

It's only a story!!


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Oct 11 - 06:35 AM

All depends how you do it. Fagan as Dickens portrays him is not simplistically villainous. There's an implied backstory of desperation and survival.

Ikey Solomon's life and career was so very different from Fagan's that it'd be a very different story - more especially if you are shifting into a very different period and society, in which the position of Jews is very much changed.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 18 Oct 11 - 07:00 AM

Fagin, please. He is a Jew, not an Irishman. Not that I have ever actually met or heard of a Jew, or anyone else, of that name. But Fagan would certainly suggest an Irishman.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Oct 11 - 07:10 AM

I have sometimes wondered whether Dickens might have meant to make him Irish, and then decided he'd work better as a Jew.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Oct 11 - 08:28 AM

In fact I think he'd have worked just as well as Irish. There's an appropriate stereotype to match there, one among many for Irishmen - there always is.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 18 Oct 11 - 08:34 AM

The story goes that Dickens was bullied by a big Irish lad called Fagan in his days in the blacking factory, so called his first real villain by a similar, but not identical, name as a revenge on him; & made him a Jew on the Ikey Solomons model, but ugly and unattractive where Solomons was quite socially presentable: -- tho Fagin has, of course, an ambivalent sort of charm ~ the semi-sympathetic comic character who eventually does a runner in Bart's musical is a reasonable sort of adaptation within its genre.

~M~


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 Oct 11 - 05:19 PM

Yes, well I've always heard that the Irish boy was Dickens friend


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 Oct 11 - 08:53 PM

BTW, comic villains seem to be common in musicals. Miss Hannigan , the orphanage matron in Annie , who could be an Irish, or Irish-American, stereotype , drunk, abusive, and her surname is Irish. Also, in the movie, she says "Mary, mother of God!", which is often associated with Catholic characters in fiction.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 Oct 11 - 10:15 PM

*is one example*


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Oct 11 - 12:40 AM

It is indeed not quite clear as to whether Dickens' co-worker in his unhappy youthful time at the blacking factory was called Bob Fagan [in which case he would have been Irish, presumably] or Fagin. G K Chesterton gave the name as Fagin, though there seems to be no ref to Jewishness; and it appears from his account that he was a big boy, who showed Dickens the work when he started, and was kind to him when he was taken ill one day and tried to see him home (but as home was the marshalsea debtors' prison where his father was held, D shool him off); but would frequently bully him and mock his depression nevertheless. If he really befriended Dickens throughout this unhappy period, it is hard to asee why Dickens should have chosen to immortalise his name as a despicable villain.

And this Dickens Fellowship note, though not mentioning Fagin/Fagan. suggests and alternative source for the character, one Worms, in place of, or in addition to, Solomon. ~~

Against this background Michael Allen's* discovery at The National Archives of documents from the Chancery Court in London, relating to disputes between the people who owned and ran the blacking factory where Dickens was employed and also between them and their rival Robert Warren, has revealed a wealth of information not previously available to us.  Where Dickens' young memory and understanding failed him these documents do, in many instances, correct and enhance the story. 
Allen's account opens up the world of Warren's Blacking, taking us beyond the knowledge and understanding of a young child.  But more than that, Allen uncovers a great deal of new information, peeling away layers about Lamerte, the man who first offered Charley the job at the blacking factory, Lamerte's family background, its Jewish roots, his Jewish cousins in the Worms family, Henry Worms – a likely model for Fagin, sent to Australia for handling stolen goods.  Here we have, for the first time, an accurate history of Warren's Blacking, written down within two years of Dickens working there.  Allen puts before us, from a contemporary source, what really went on in a blacking factory.  Here is a feast of new material.  For anybody who thought they knew the full story of Dickens' childhood, think again. (*Charles Dickens and the Blacking Factory by Michael Allen)


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Oct 11 - 12:54 AM

According to Dickens' friend John Forster's "The Life of Charles Dickens" (1872), Book I Chapter II, based on CD's own account, Fagin was in the main kind and protective towards Dickens, who described his using the name 'long afterwards' in Oliver Twist as "a liberty".

Hard to pin down the truth; but the most authentic authorities seem to agree that he was actually called Fagin and was mainly well-disposed. Why CD 'took the liberty' of using his name for a villain seems a bit mysterious.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 Oct 11 - 03:16 AM

I read an explanation that Dickens was slightly snobbish about the fact that he was forced to work in a blacking factory. He never mentioned it to anyone he knew, and apparently (according to this explanation), he didn't like it not only because of the hard conditions,but because of the people he was working with .


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 Oct 11 - 03:19 AM

So (according to this) his using the name for his villain was a sign of what he really thought of the person he saw as socially distant from him, and a sign of his bitterness about that part of his life.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Oct 11 - 03:42 AM

He wasn't 'slightly snobbish' ~~ it was a bitter bitter memory he never really expunged for all his feted lifelong success and fame once he had made it; and a great secret from everyone, even I believe his wives; only breathed in confidence to his dear friend Forster whom he knew to be collecting data for his biography, and then only on condition that it should never be made known in his lifetime. He had always dreamed of fame, and never forgave his father for his financial neglect which landed him in such a predicament and seemed to cut him off from all hope in life: the first part of Little Dorrit demands to be read in this context; & even Part II, where Clennam has contrived to get Dorrit out of the Marshalsea and restore his wealth, has to be read as indicating that one never shakes off the 'shades of the prison house'; as indeed, as I say, CD never did.

~M~


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 Oct 11 - 04:16 AM

I read it someplace. And I think you misraed me, when I said "It was a sign of his bitterness about that part of his life." .But there's another explanation, that Dickens used that name just because he liked the way it sounded.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Oct 11 - 04:39 AM

Yes, Morwen: I caught your 'bitterness', indeed: but felt 'slightly snobbish' a gross understatement for something he kept a lifelong secret from everyone but his closest friend...


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 Oct 11 - 05:06 AM

And the fact is (this will be a short one because I have to revise for my next HSC exam) that whatever reason Dickens had for naming his Jewish character a name that is not common among Jews and which came from a Christian coworker, Fagin's Jewishness and profession came from Ikey Solomon and/or Henry Worms; I think it was Ikey Solomon.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 Oct 11 - 03:58 PM

I could go into detail here about why I think so, but one reason is that I think he used a professional fence as his model (ie someone that did not have another occupation) and Ikey Solomon was one (Henry Worms actually had, according to the Old Bailey court transcript, "a marine store shop")


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Oct 11 - 04:58 PM

Not necessarily based on either one or the other, Morwen; but probably aspects of both, + possibly some others. It seems quite authenticated that fencing was something of a Jewish-dominated crime at the time. Would refer you back to my previous post, as to my novelist first wife's practice in creating character, which she spells out in one of her metaficitional works ~~ 18 Oct 11 - 12:25 AM.

~M~


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Oct 11 - 05:04 PM

...and of course a marine-store shop could have provided a fine front for fencing.

& Solomon had a shopkeeper-front also ~~ obviously every fence had to have an ostensible way of making a living as a front ~ he wasn't going to answer a question as to what he did for a living with "Oh, I'm a receiver of stolen goods, dontcha know!", was he?

Wiki says:"Ikey Solomon first had a shop in Brighton, but later opened what was ostensibly a jeweller's shop in Bell Lane, London, in the vicinity of Petticoat Lane. (This business has also been described as a pawn shop.)"

~M~


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 Oct 11 - 05:24 PM

BTW, there are two contradictory stories about how Ikey Solomon got to be a fence in the first place.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 Oct 11 - 06:16 PM

And another btw, Ikey Solomon had a warehouse in Chatham, where Dickens was brought up(according to Judith Sackville O'Donnell, a historian who wrote the book "The First Fagin" about him). Several writers also claim that Ikey was a kidsman - not uncommon for fences at the time.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 20 Oct 11 - 04:53 AM

One is that his father, Henry, was a fence and introduced him to it. The other is that he got involved with a gang of pickpockets from the age of seven onwards. Or perhaps they are both true.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 20 Oct 11 - 05:21 AM

They can all be true, Morwen. So can the additional influence on Dickens' characterisation of Worms; & probably some others who might have been in the news at the time - as I said before, it isw a matter of record that many fences (& probably kidsmen too) happened to be Jews, and newspapers must have carried accounts of their trials. You will talk in terms of 'either/or' in regard to a variety of possible influences which are entirely mutually compatible.

~M~


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 20 Oct 11 - 06:37 AM

On the subject of Dickens' real-life inspirations for Fagin's character- sorry about misinterpreting what you said, MtheGM- a fence and a kidsman could be the same person or separate, as I'm sure you know. It makes perfect sense for a fence to be a kidsman as well; by caring for the children, they could make them get attached and unwilling to question their loyalties. To quote Lionel Bart, from the musical in "I'd Do Anything"; "We'd risk life and limb/To keep you in the swing." . Ikey Solomon was not the only inspiration for Fagin, but he was certainly the one who was the most high-profile; his escapes were famous. It's easy to imagine him as a kidsman, as his reputation would have been known to the boys (and possibly girls, but I've only read about boys) he trained as pickpockets.

The most objectionable thing about Dickens' character is the fact that he is a miser- not the fact that he is a fence. That's the issue I'm going to try to handle in my (steampunk!) reworking. And the reason why I started this thread.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST,Ebor_Fiddler
Date: 20 Oct 11 - 06:58 PM

A Yorkshireman is a Scotchman with the generosity bashed out.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 20 Oct 11 - 10:16 PM

btw, MtheGM, Dickens also knew that lots of fences were Jewish, as I'm sure you also know.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 21 Oct 11 - 01:31 AM

BTW, this is slightly off-topic, but- about fences in general. I'd think a fence who set up as a shopkeeper would have to be literate- they'd have to be able to keep track of the people who sent them the stolen goods and be able to disguise them so that they could be sold undetected. Does anyone know how a poor non-Christian British person living in the city in the early 19th century could have learnt how to read and write?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 21 Oct 11 - 01:46 AM

Re-found a link I looked at before, talking about the Bryce Courtenay novel The Potato Factory , and its portrayal of Ikey Solomon, as well as Dickens' Oliver Twist .
Might be interesting to someone else here:
Ikey Solomon: Another Australian Icon?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 21 Oct 11 - 06:11 AM

Refresh. Anyone want to continue this discussion?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 21 Oct 11 - 11:40 AM

"Does anyone know how a poor non-Christian British person living in the city in the early 19th century could have learnt how to read and write?"

I am not involved in this 'discussion', but I would suggest you could answer that question with regard to Jews by reading about Jewish culture in England at that time.

Even when the Warsaw Ghetto 'uprising' was at its height, the Jewish fighters were still operating schools in the Ghetto to teach their children reading, writing, Torah.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Oct 11 - 12:50 PM

In fact, literacy, even before the Forster Education Acts, though by no means universal, was quite widespread among the agricultural and urban working classes ~~ how else would the broadside & chapbook printers & sellers have sold their wares in the vast quantities they did?

~M~


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 Oct 11 - 03:52 PM

Fagan/Fagan can be spelt either way as an Irish name. More commonly the former, but by no means exclusively.

You get the same with Cohan and Cohen. All very confusing. Here is a snippet of a daft film from 1903 Levi & Cohen, the Irish Comedians...


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 Oct 11 - 04:01 PM

I meant to type "Fagin/Fagan can be spelt either way as an Irish name."


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 21 Oct 11 - 11:01 PM

thanks for the tip,999!


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: Kent Davis
Date: 22 Oct 11 - 12:08 AM

MorwenEdhelwen1,

You began this discussion by asking "Does anyone here believe that a character created as a racial, ethnic, or religious stereotype can be depicted in a reworking of a story, emphasising religious or racial aspects, without reinforcing a stereotype? "

I first became acquainted with the character Fagin through the 1968 movie "Oliver!" That was 43 years ago, so perhaps my memory is foggy, but I don't recall that it depicted Fagin as a stereotypical Jew. About a year ago, I saw a live version of the musical (very, very far off Broadway). That version did not suggest that Fagin was a Jew, let alone a stereotypical Jew.

I have not read the book. It never crossed my mind that the character Fagin had any Jewish characteristics, either real or stereotypical. So, to answer half of your question: Yes, an originally stereotypical character can be depicted in a re-working of a story without reinforcing the stereotype.

I am puzzled as to how the rest of your question relates to Fagin. You asked if such a character could be depicted without reinforcing stereotypes, while also emphasing religious or racial aspects. Fagin may be Jewish but, if he is, he is only so by ethnicity. Since he is a thief, he couldn't possibly be religiously a Jew.

I am taking your word for it that the Dickens character was originally stereotypical. As a criminal from the slums, Fagin certainly does not match any stereotype of Jews that I have ever encountered.   

Kent


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Oct 11 - 12:44 AM

I don't follow the logic of your penultimate para, Kent. Many criminals maintain their religious beliefs ~~ Mafiosi or Camorra-members, to take one example, are/were often devout RCs. And what of abusive priests, of whom we hear so much? They are, to be sure, faulty priests and believers: but their devoutness often remains intact thruout their errors? So why could not a thief remain an observant Jew ~~ as, by all accounts, Ikey Solomons was? I have no religion myself; but I can see that one might cling to a deeply-held belief whilst nevertheless conscious of one's own sinfulness.

~M~


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: Kent Davis
Date: 22 Oct 11 - 01:39 AM

MtheGM,

As one who is conscious of his own sinfullness, I agree that one can be a believer and a sinner. In fact, I agree that all have sinned, believer and non-believer alike.

An observant Jew (or Christian or Muslim) might give into the the temptation to steal, and then repent. If, however, a person is continuing to choose a life based on a practice that is repugnant to a religion, the person can't then claim to follow that religion.

Fagin was not a man who slipped and gave into the temptation to steal. He was a unrepenant professional thief.

You can be a gigolo. You can be Amish. You can't be an Amish gigolo.

I am not Roman Catholic, but I strongly disagree that unrepenant murderers or serial child rapists can be described as "devout" Roman Catholics. They may be lapsed, or fallen, or former, or false, or self-proclaimed, or maybe even "culturally" Roman Catholic, but they are not religiously Roman Catholic.

Kent


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 22 Oct 11 - 01:44 AM

Kent Davis, Fagin in the Dickens novel is repeatedly referred to as "the Jew". At least, he was in the edition I read. He is not a "religious" Jew, but as MtheGM said, Ikey Solomon (one of the men who inspired the character) was. And he does fit one stereotype the miser who cares only about wealth .
I don't want to offend you, so if I have, I apologise but ,i> have you really never heard of the stereotype that Jews are money-hungry? And even in the musical, where he isn't explicitly a Jew, Fagin is a miser.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Oct 11 - 01:51 AM

I must disagree, Kent. A sort of doublethink seems to me to come into play in such circumstances as we are discussing.

We are, of course, back to Aquinas, or even Plato, on evil and original-sin, in these lucubrations. They never claimed to have entirely solved the problem of evil, either!

Jesus told The Woman Taken In Adultery to "Go and sin no more". I wonder if she did. Or if he really expected her to...

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 22 Oct 11 - 01:51 AM

BTW, on Ikey Solomon-in the transcript several posts above Judith Sackville O'Donnell suggests that ïf you were a Jewish fence you could kind of convince ÿourself that you were an honest dealer in secondhand goods" And I quote: "The trick was to not ask too many questions about where the goods came from".


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 22 Oct 11 - 01:58 AM

So, a person could be both a fence and an observant Jew, as many poor London Jews, particularly in the East End, were dealers in secondhand goods. The person didn't have to really do anything, just not ask any questions when someone brought them something and offered to sell it. .


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: Kent Davis
Date: 22 Oct 11 - 01:59 AM

Yes, I have heard the stereotype of miserly Jews. In the version I saw, what was emphasized was Fagin's criminality, not his miserliness.   

I was not commenting on the book, which I haven't read. I was commenting to point out that someone has already taken Fagin's character and has presented it in such a way that it does not reinforce a stereotype. I presume that someone was Lionel Bart, although perhaps the versions I saw were altered from the original Broadway musical.

Kent


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 22 Oct 11 - 02:08 AM

But do you believe Fagin could be portrayed as being like Ikey Solomon- an observant Jew who has convinced himself that he is, as Judith Sackville O'Donnell suggests, "an honest dealer in secondhand goods"?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: Kent Davis
Date: 22 Oct 11 - 02:12 AM

MtheGM,

No one is claiming to have solved the problem of evil. No one is claiming that religious people don't sin. I am just pointing out that a person who is continuing to choose a life based on a practice that is repugnant to a religion, can't then credibly claim to follow that religion.

A man who gets into a brawl might turn out to be a Quaker who slipped. A career military officer who also claims to be a faithful Quaker is simply a liar.   

Kent


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: Kent Davis
Date: 22 Oct 11 - 02:23 AM

MorwenEdelwen1,

I suspect that Jews are much like us Gentiles, able to convince ourselves of almost anything.

So, in my last post, I should not have written that my hypothetical pseudo-Quaker warrior was simply a liar. I should have written that such a man was simply wrong.

Kent

P.S. I had a roommate in college who had first joined the Navy, and had then become a Quaker. The Navy was not pleased to have a pacificist in the ranks, nor was he pleased to be a warrior, hence he very quickly became an ex-Navy man.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Oct 11 - 02:23 AM

We disagree on this matter, Kent; to the extent that I think it would be vain to continue on this particular aspect.

Re your other points, please don't be so parochial! Lionel Bart is British, and it was of course originally a West End, not a Broadway, musical.

Sweriously, though: indeed, the character was much softened by Bart, from a disgusting hypocritical villain, eventually hanged, to a lovable[ish] comic rogue who makes his getaway with at least some of his ill-gotten gains at the end.

Why not take time to read the book ~~ it is quite short in Dickensian terms, and very readable ~~ in order to be fully qualified to comment and compare?

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 22 Oct 11 - 04:34 AM

Kent, I knowyou're commenting on the play, not the book, but- Fagin was not a thief, he was a fence. You still haven;'t really answered my question: can fagin be portrayed as an observant Jew, who has convinced himeself taht he's honest?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Oct 11 - 06:56 AM

Well, Fagin was a thief as well as a fence, in the book, the film and the stage musical. Training kids to carry out the legwork and the fingerwork involved in stealing is a variety of theft.

But he doesn't need to have convinced himself that he is honest in order to be religiously observant. Just that he is doing what he has been forced to do by circumstances, maybe that what he has done is not that bad, and that he is an imperfect human being who can pray to be forgiven before it's too late.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 22 Oct 11 - 07:07 AM

Thanks for that, McGrath of Harlow. Actually, a lot of fences (a significant percentage were Jewish, but not all ) were also kidsmen and trained children to steal for them because it was an easy and convenient way of getting the stolen goods. Also dealing in secondhand goods provided a good front- you could just not ask questions and convince yourself that what you're doing isn't that bad.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: Kent Davis
Date: 22 Oct 11 - 10:50 AM

MorwenEdelwen1,

I thought I had answered your question, albeit in parts.

It would be possible to portray the guy as a self-deluded ethnic stereotype who imagines that Moses gave only nine commandments.

History and literature are full of characters who have deluded themselves into believing that they ARE what everyone else can see they are NOT.

It would not be possible to portray him as TRULY an observant (i.e., religious) Jew. It would not be possible because Judaism is truly incompatible with life as an unrepentant thief.

Although it would be possible to portray him as a self-deluded stereotype, it would very difficult to do so without reinforcing the stereotype.

Certain American television situation comedies of the 1960's and '70's suggest a possible way out of your dilemma, while also showing how difficult a task you have. (I don't know if these shows are known to you in Australia. I have heard that American television has infested the world, so perhaps they are.)

"Sanford and Son", portrayed Sanford, an African-American, in ethnically stereotypical ways. However, nearly all the characters were of the same ethnicity, which at least mitigated the stereotyping. "The Beverly Hillbillies" portrayed a family as Appalachian/Ozark stereotypes, but subverted the stereotypes so that, for example, the "dumb Hillbilly" ended up out-smarting the "sophisticated" Big City banker every time. Again, this mitigated the damage. The shows were popular even among the people who were being stereotyped.

Nevertheless,in my opinion, the shows did reinforce stereotypes; they just made the stereotypes less offensive.

I imagine it would be especially difficult to do what you are trying to do since, Fagin is (as far as I know) the only Jew among a crowd of Gentiles, and since he is a villian.

Kent


P.S. to MtheGM,

Pardon me, Sir! I plead "guilty" to parochialism. I had clean forgotten that "Oliver!" began life on the West End.

I did remember that "Sanford and Son" began life in the mother country as "Steptoe and Son", but whether "Steptoe and Son" involved sterotypes, I do not know.

Kent


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Oct 11 - 11:42 AM

the only Jew among a crowd of Gentiles, and since he is a villian.

But the whole crowd are villains, one way and another. Does that mean they are stereotype Gentiles?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: Kent Davis
Date: 22 Oct 11 - 11:52 AM

Perhaps so, McGrath, although I've never thought of Oliver Twist or Mr. Brownlow as villians. Even Nancy and the Artful Dodger, for all their faults, don't seem like villians to me. Maybe I'm just an old softie.

Kent


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: Bert
Date: 22 Oct 11 - 12:32 PM

Never mind the quality, feel the width.

A large percentage of the population of the East End was Jewish in Dickens' time and still is to this day. When I was at school in Forest Gate the only time that Jews were noticed was when they didn't have to take Religious Instruction lessons. Then they were envied and not criticized.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 22 Oct 11 - 04:09 PM

Bert, I'm sorry I don't now what you are trying to say here.. can you please make it clearer?
(For the record, the story is going to be set in an East End neighbourhood- don't know which one yet, but if anyone knows one that would work, well- I'll take taht suggestion- with both a significant Black population and a significant Jewish population)


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 22 Oct 11 - 04:15 PM

EDIT: *know*


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 22 Oct 11 - 04:18 PM

*that*


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: Bert
Date: 22 Oct 11 - 04:43 PM

MorwenEdhelwen1,

Never mind the quality, feel the width. Was a TV show about an Irishman and a Jew.

As for the other comment, I think I was trying to say was that Jews were part of life in The East End. Surely to leave them out of a story set in London would definitely be prejudiced.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Oct 11 - 05:34 PM

I gather the story MtheGM had about the origin of the name Fagin isn't quite accurate - "The story goes that Dickens was bullied by a big Irish lad called Fagan in his days in the blacking factory, so called his first real villain by a similar, but not identical, name as a revenge on him."

It's a bit more complicated - Bob Fagin (spelt that way) was Dickens mentor when he was in the blacking factory, teaching him how to put the labels on at record speed, so that impressed visitors used to line up to watch them. He seems to have been a friend of sorts, trying to help Dickens to find life a bit easier, stuck in the factory which he hated.

In an essay John Bayley (essay contained in this book suggests that "No wonder Fagin the criminal is such an ambivalent figure when the real Fagin's kindness had, so to speak, threatened to immure Dickens to the hopeless routine of the wage-slave. So passionate was the young Dickens's desire for the station in life to which he felt entitled, and so terrifying his sense that it was being denied him, that he must have hated the real Fagin for the virtue which he could not bear to accept or recognise in that nightmare world, because it might help to subdue him into it. The real Fagin's kindness becomes the criminal Fagin's villainy."

Whether Bob Fagin was Irish is unclear and unstated. Perhaps he was Jewish, for that matter - it's not an obvious name to give a Jewish character if you hadn't known a Jew with the name.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 22 Oct 11 - 05:46 PM

Thing one: write the story.

I think you'll find as the story develops, you'll be forced into research about aspects of what you're writing. That's normal. (Don't want a character brandishing a stainless steel dagger in the late 1800s because stainless steel wasn't invented until 1913.) I think Michael mentioned earlier that the devil's in the details. If so, he's right.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 22 Oct 11 - 10:43 PM

Another point, on the issue of Fagin/ Ikey Solomon, is that Ikey Solomon, although he wasn't the only real-life inspiration, was associated with the Fagin character almost as soon as "Oliver Twist" came out in serial form, so people thought he was "the" real-life Fagin.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 22 Oct 11 - 10:56 PM

Why that was, I don't know. Anyone have an idea why?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: Janie
Date: 22 Oct 11 - 11:21 PM

At least at this point, I have nothing to add, just want to comment that I appreciate the cogent discussion on this thread.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 23 Oct 11 - 01:22 AM

==="I gather the story MtheGM had about the origin of the name Fagin isn't quite accurate - "The story goes that Dickens was bullied by a big Irish lad called Fagan in his days in the blacking factory, so called his first real villain by a similar, but not identical, name as a revenge on him."====

Yes, I know, Kevin. I went on later to modify my original post.

~M~


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Oct 11 - 07:53 AM

Why that was, I don't know. Anyone have an idea why?

Many people seem to have an appetite for one-to-one identifications like that. It is illustrated in many Mudcat posts where there's an assumption that an episode in a song for example, has a single direct reference- "that's what it's about".

That is just restating the question, it doesn't answer it. It's just how many people react to stories and suchlike. Ambiguity is seen as something to be correcte4de rather than appreciated.

(I wasn't criticising your orig9onal post MtheGM, just using it as a useful way to identify what I was referring to, and expanding on the information we'd got in the light of what I'd just read.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 23 Oct 11 - 10:13 PM

Refresh. I was thinking that it was because he was well-known, but he must have done something similar to be identified with the character, yet there is no record of him as a kidsman in the Old Bailey transcripts. but then does anyone know whether something like that would have been mentioned in a trial?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 24 Oct 11 - 05:07 PM

Refresh.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 25 Oct 11 - 04:26 AM

Anyone else want to discuss this?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 25 Oct 11 - 06:44 PM

refresh. Most accounts of Ikey's life which describe him as a kidsman mention other fences too or make statements like, "Many fences trained children to steal for them." BTW, does anyone know why mostly only boys are mentioned in references to kidsmen.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 26 Oct 11 - 04:36 AM

Refresh.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 26 Oct 11 - 05:48 PM

The girls would presumably be mainly used to earn money on the streets in other ways.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 26 Oct 11 - 07:34 PM

BTW, in dictionaries of Victorian criminal slang, "Ikey" meant: "a Jew, especially a receiver of stolen goods."


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 26 Oct 11 - 07:49 PM

So, for a Jewish fence character, it (as a 19th century nickname for Isaac) makes a lot of sense as a name. and the "Prince of Fences" (Ikey Solomon) could (or maybe not) have inspired the slang use of the name.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 26 Oct 11 - 07:56 PM

http://encyclopedia.jrank.org/articles/pages/727/Jews.html


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 26 Oct 11 - 11:51 PM

999, looked at the page before. Thanks! the name was used as an insult, but it's an *old* insult (one page I looked at said it was 1830s American slang- but would a slang term really take THREE DECADES to appear in a slang dictionary?) and it was also a nickname for "fence", as I wrote.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 27 Oct 11 - 04:45 AM

Terms and dictionaries and thirty years.

I once wrote to a reputable dictionary company to inform the editors of a word-use I'd never seen or heard before that wasn't in their dictionary.

I was speaking with an old trapper in northern Alberta asking after his success the previous day. I don't recall exactly, but our conversation went something like

Me: Good day yesterday?
He: Uh. (Meaning 'not great'.)
Me: How many lynx you take?
He: [Held up his forefinger to designate 'one'.]
Me: Uh. (Meaning 'oh, that's too bad'.)
He: Uh. (Meaning 'you got that right'.)

I didn't pursue it at the time because he'd chosen trapping as his way of life and he didn't need someone having long talks with him, and I'd already pushed that limit.

The dictionary people informed me that words are not entered in their dictionary until after they have appeared in print. (I don't know if that applies in the case you mention.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 27 Oct 11 - 04:53 AM

I should point out that I was camped near his trap line (about a half mile), and during the week I stayed he came over about six times to have coffee and a few meals with me. What I just related was our longest conversation. That was back in 1983/4 or so. The word-use still isn't mentioned in any dictionary I've ever seen.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 27 Oct 11 - 05:22 AM

Idiot that I am:

Me: Good day yesterday?
He: Uh. (Meaning 'not great'.)
Me: How many lynx you take?
He: Link. [Held up his forefinger to designate 'one'.]
Me: Uh. (Meaning 'oh, that's too bad'.)
He: Uh. (Meaning 'you got that right'.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 27 Oct 11 - 06:50 AM

BTW, about the use of "Ikey" to mean "fence"- and it being a 19th century nickname- because of this it does make a good and plausible name for a Jewish fence character.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Oct 11 - 08:24 AM

Who said it didn't, Morwen? But in what work is a 'character' so named?

~M~


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 27 Oct 11 - 09:06 AM

I quit. Best wishes with whatever you end up doing. Goodbye.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 27 Oct 11 - 06:35 PM

999, sorry for offending you- again. I hate this- always end up offending someone and I don't know why. before you
quit permanently and never decide to help me again, I want to say that the first print appearance of that term that I know about is in a slang dictionary in the 1860s, so it seems like it isn't one of those cases. (BTW, again it may be too late, but sorry for offending you and I really appreciate your help. may not sound like it, but sometimes I can't understand what people mean to say on the Internet, *which is not a personal attack*)

MtheGM, don't know of any books, plays or anything where there's a character named Ikey who's a fence. Well, actually, I know of one, but it's historical fiction about you-know-who.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 27 Oct 11 - 06:47 PM

And another btw- I will try and look at another poster's comments and what they're saying before posting a totally unrelated (to the previous post) comment. because (and 999, I have to say again that I truly appreciate your help, and thank you so much for it) it may help in getting rid of miscommunication, which I don't want when I'm discussing topics on the Internet.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 27 Oct 11 - 06:54 PM

and I will work on the story as soon as HSC exams are done and I can do a little background research for basic facts and do the rest as it develops. thank you again, 999, for the tip!


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 27 Oct 11 - 06:58 PM

We're cool. Bad day here. My apologies.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 27 Oct 11 - 07:20 PM

Thank you, 999!


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 27 Oct 11 - 07:57 PM

Another theory I've discovered for how Ikey S. came to be identified with Fagin is that in the early 1800s there was a play called "Van Diemen's Land" with a character called Barney Fence, stereotyped Jew, and the fact is that after Ikey's trial, the play was retitled after the Barney character, who was renamed "Ikey Solomon".


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 27 Oct 11 - 08:05 PM

ME1: where can I find the text of the play? There's a song of that name and I believe a movie of that title which was released a few years ago. The reference was to Tasmania as you know. I am not 'up on' that history and now you have piqued my interest big time.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 27 Oct 11 - 08:24 PM

I'm sorry, but I have absolutely no idea! here in NSW, we only cover the convict history of our state in Year 2, with only occasional references in Australian history classes for high school, and only in learning about explorers who "found" other states.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 27 Oct 11 - 08:37 PM

Thanks, ME1. I'll do some digging tomorrow. Getting late here and I'm an old geezer, and if my earlier post is anything to go by, miserable, too.

Thank you again.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 27 Oct 11 - 10:10 PM

Well, I did a Google search- and there is no online text, so you might have to look in archives- unless you have access to university archives. I did find an interesting period newspaper article but couldn't read the text.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 27 Oct 11 - 10:11 PM

*overseas*


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 27 Oct 11 - 10:19 PM

*don't have*


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 12:59 AM

Bruce ~ I suspect that, although Van Diemen's Land was indeed the old name for the island of Tasmania, the name was used in much convict folksong and folklore for Australia in general ~~ "That Fatal Shore", as one of the songs calls it, used as the title [The Fatal Shore] for Robert Hughes 1987 distinguished history of convict transportation to Australia.

~M~

This is drift here ~ think I will repro this as intro post for a new thread on this topic.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 02:00 AM

Bruce-- I made a mistake in my post. Ignore that. I meant the NLA - the National Library of Australia. MtheGM, Van Diemen's Land means "Tasmania".


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 02:04 AM

The NLA has a copy of the script (in book form) for W.T. Moncrieff's play "Van Diemen's Land; or Settlers and Natives; an operatic drama in three acts."


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 03:05 AM

Morwen ~~ I know perfectly well what VDL meant. Please read my post again. & see my new above-line thread on the topic.

~M~


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 03:32 AM

Sorry, forgot to add: "And I've only ever heard as meaning "Tasmania".


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 10:05 AM

ME1: Michael (MtheGM) has much depth in matters folk. He's an accomplished writer and researcher, as a btw.

I'm curious as to where you 'see' the story going. Whatever the end tale, it will likely have to be informed by social histories of the time in which you set the tale and histories of the times in 'flashbacks' or glimpses into the past. Do you have ideas along those lines as yet?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 06:24 PM

Refresh. Well, Bruce I don't know what you mean- can you clarify it?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 06:47 PM

And btw I made another post (in response to MtheGM's suggestion of VDL as a generic name for Australia) on the fact that I've only ever heard of Van Diemen's Land as meaning Tasmania. But I don't know if MtheGM caught that.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 07:16 PM

BTW, can you clarify the last sentence of your post? As to where I see the story going... well it's steampunk, science fiction/fantasy with Victorian era elements. It's a very loose reworking of Oliver Twist In the Victorian era/19th century, as many fences were kidsmen and baby-farming wa a common method of caring for an unwanted child, and resulted in notorious murders,(although there is no record of this), a fence/kidsman and a baby farmer could team up together to care for street children and train them as petty criminals- after all, it was very unlikely that the children's parents would be able to trace them, if I'm not wrong .


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 07:17 PM

EDIT: "and"


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 07:19 PM

"was"


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 10:39 PM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 11:00 PM

Btw, are you still interested in getting the play text?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 11:06 PM

Does a chicken have lips?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 11:11 PM

I'll take that as a no, unless that's a trick question.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 11:14 PM

It was a joke. Canadian by nature. YES!


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 11:17 PM

Ok, I found an article but I'll post the link later.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 11:25 PM

Morwen ~~ Thank you; yes, I did catch your VDL clarification, both here & on that other thread on VDL.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 29 Oct 11 - 01:10 AM

For 999, here is the article: "Drama of Van Diemën's Land". It isn't the whole play, just extracts. There's no full online text of the play, but he NLA does have a copy.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 29 Oct 11 - 01:52 AM

BTW, 999 and MtheGM, this is probably unsurprising to you but from searching the NLA Trove website, I discovered that Isaac (Ikey) Solomon's papers (i.e. his letters, probably very private and interesting),are kept at the Australian Jewish Historical Society's Library.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 29 Oct 11 - 05:56 AM

Refresh.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 29 Oct 11 - 09:37 PM

BTW, found a link on Dickens and accusations of anti-Semitism and racism: Charles Dickens: Allegations of anti-Semitism and racism


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 29 Oct 11 - 10:54 PM

And,999, could you please clarify the last sentence of your 28 Oct 11 10: 05 post?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 30 Oct 11 - 01:53 AM

Refresh.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 30 Oct 11 - 02:41 AM

... In his *next novel, Our Mutual Friend, he created the character of Riah (meaning "friend" in Hebrew), whose goodness, Vallely writes, is almost as complete as Fagin's evil...

Morwen: This from the wiki link you give above is not accurate [as wiki entries often are not]: OMF was not CD's '*next' novel, but the last ever published apart from the unfinished Edwin Drood, while OT was the first apart from Pickwick Papers, which many Dickensians regard as more of a series of comic sketches than a true novel. So CD's grief at the offence he had occasioned was not as urgent as to have required the sort of instant atonement the wiki writer seems rather romantically to have foisted on him, but was made after a whole long career, a gap of 26 successful years.

~M~


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 30 Oct 11 - 04:02 AM

So, it took him 26 years to do that...


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 30 Oct 11 - 04:11 AM

Yep ~ Oliver Twist published 1838; Our Mutual Friend 1864-65.

~M~


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 30 Oct 11 - 04:32 AM

Morning to you out there in VDL and you out there in England from me out there in Canada.

A thing to grasp about Dickens is that he wrote for a living. Stereotypes are a fast way to grab people's imaginations because playing to the prejudices of readers is a quick way to engage them. Great Expectations for example: CD was one week ahead of his readers. The story was I think serialized for weekly publication. He didn't write it in a 'single sitting' as was the case with some of his tales.

I saw a comedic skit years back (Dr Who?) in which an English Occidental was sitting beside an Asian Oriental. A third party reading from a small piece of paper looked at the duo and addressed the Oriental: "Dr Wu I assume." The Occidental spoke up saying, "I am Dr Wu. He is Dr Smith."


Thank you for the link, ME1.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 30 Oct 11 - 05:10 AM

You're welcome. but I thought OT was published in 1837?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 30 Oct 11 - 06:04 AM

"time and place written · 1837–38, London

date of first publication · Published in serial form between February 1837 and April 1839; first book edition published in November 1838

publisher · First published serially in Bentley's Miscellany, a periodical edited by Dickens"


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 30 Oct 11 - 09:20 AM

It's worth noticing that in the text Charles Dickens used for "Sikes and Nancy", the presentation of which was a major part of his enormously popular public performances right up to his death, Fagin is never referred to as "the Jew", and there is no mention whatsoever of his being Jewish.

Dickens was well aware that this aspect of Oliver Twist was one which risked encouraging something he did in truth not wish to encourage, antagonism towards Jews.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 30 Oct 11 - 05:38 PM

Refresh. Thanks for the information. 999, can I ask you agin to clarify your post on this page?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 30 Oct 11 - 09:56 PM

Thanks for the clarification.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 30 Oct 11 - 10:07 PM

You are welcome.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 02:24 AM

BTW, you might be intersted in knowing that Ikey Solomon is said to have used a tobacco store he established in Hobart as a front.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 08:16 AM

This thread set me to re-read Oliver Twist. In the course of which I was reminded that, while Fagin gets hung (on very questionable evidence), the Artful Dodger is evidently transported to Australia. Just as happened to the real Ikey Solomon.

Now that would make for an interesting story. I think young Jack Dawkins might have have done rather well down under. If he lived, that is.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 10:28 PM

btw, (spoiler) my version will be told in diary format (implausible) by the Artful Dodger.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 04:49 AM

Refresh.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 09:33 PM

OK, so what about racial slurs, if say I have a character referring to himself using the n-word?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 02 Nov 11 - 06:39 AM

Refresh.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 02 Nov 11 - 09:26 PM

Anyone want to continue this?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 03 Nov 11 - 04:12 AM

BTW, I feel that if Dickens had given Fagin a Jewish female accomplice on the model of Ann Solomon (Ikey's wife) the story would be very different; it would be two fences exploiting children, instead of only one.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 03 Nov 11 - 04:27 AM

And it would mean that Nancy would not be the only underworld female character in "Oliver Twist".


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Nov 11 - 07:46 AM

Obviously Dickens could have written a different book with different characters. Alongside all the other books with different characters.

There is actually very little similarity between the real Ikey Solomon and Fagin. There is nothing to suggest that Fagin was modelled on him. Ikey was a fence in the East End, and he was Jewish. So was Fagin (though fencing as such was only part of his crim9inal activities.) But the indications are that to have an East End fence who was not Jewish at that time would have been a bit implausible.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 03 Nov 11 - 08:10 AM

Actually, I think that in the book (if I remember it correctly) Fagin's den that Oliver stays at was located in Field Lane in Little Saffron Hill, in Central/Greater London,not really in the East End , but there's another one mentioned in the book that was in Whitechapel, which is in the East End . Ikey Solomon "had a shop in Bell Lane, Spitalfields, in the vicinity of Petticoat Lane", which is part of the Whitechapel area, or near it, according to my research. And I think it would be interesting toahve Fagin be more like Ikey Solomon. In my opinion, there's a mistake in the title of this thread- should've been "reworkings" rather than "retellings". A "retelling" is when a writer takes a story or aprt of a story and changes the language, but keeps the plot, charcters etc. A "reworking" is when you take the plot or themes and create something new.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Nov 11 - 04:47 PM

Might be fun to have a sort of sequel to Oliver Twist, with the Artful Dodger tying up with the real Ikey Solomon after being transported.   You could have Ikey's disparaging comments on Fagin...


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 03 Nov 11 - 04:49 PM

*to have*
*part*


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 03 Nov 11 - 05:22 PM

The hardest thing to write in a transportation story would be the convicts' racist attitudes. Most of the White convicts (and free settlers) on ships were racist towards the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people they encountered, and a non-racist White person might treat an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person slightly better than the average, but they would seem racist to a 21st century person.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 03 Nov 11 - 05:47 PM

McGrath of Harlow, I also said in a few posts that Ikey could've been a kidsman as well. It wasn't uncommon for fences to teach children to steal for them- easy and convenient as they would have an accessible source of suppliers, and Ikey is said to have controlled all of London's gangs at one time.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 03 Nov 11 - 05:50 PM

Not saying that means that Fagin was absolutely based on him, of course, but it could be a reason why so many people identify him with the character. And then there is also his trial- a great sensation, which is an understatement.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 03 Nov 11 - 05:56 PM

"OK, so what about racial slurs, if say I have a character referring to himself using the n-word?"

I think that sort of thing can be handled appropriately. However, the test I would put it to as a Chinese-Australian (or Australian-Chinese) is fairly simple.

If you read a story referring to 'chinks' or 'slants', how would that make you perceive the writer or the writer's intent? And more importantly, how would it make you feel inside?

Answer that and you answer your question, imo.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 03 Nov 11 - 06:18 PM

This didn't take; so I will try and post it again. My answer to the question is that it would depend on the writer's intent; whether or not they were trying to represent a clearly racist character.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 03 Nov 11 - 07:01 PM

BTW, Ikey and his wife were in their twenties when they got married. JJ Tobias, in his book "The Prince Of Fences", says Ann/Hannah (the names "Ann" and "Hannah" are pronounced pretty much the same way in a h-dropping Cockney accent, or so I think: "Hannah" would be "'Annah", which could be "Hann"/Ann" for short) was born approximately 1786.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 03 Nov 11 - 07:09 PM

And Nancy is an old nickname for Ann... but I'm pretty sure that's just a coincidence!


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Nov 11 - 07:19 PM

I understand, Grasshopper. But allow me to continue.

How would your antecedents from the Chinese side of your family feel/react were you to write using the terms chink or slant in reference to Chinese people?

Words carry baggage, and that's why they can create stereotypes so succinctly.

Few people have ever heard of Ng Moi, despite her having been one of the world's great martial artists. However, everyone has heard of Bruce Lee, another great top-ten.

A little known story: when the casting was taking place for the movie and subsequent TV show Kung Fu, Master Lee was refused the role because he had a Chinese accent. Instead, they chose David Carradine (born John Arthur Carradine) because he spoke English (on occasion with Chinese 'intonations' in the movie and series). Hard to believe that Cato from the Green Hornet was seconded to Mr Carradine, but he was.

You will do as you do, and no, you have no responsibility for other people's interpretation of your motive or intent, but regardless, in the final analysis, you will live with your decision(s) as do we all.

Best wishes to you.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 03 Nov 11 - 07:20 PM

I understand, Grasshopper. But allow me to continue.

How would your antecedents from the Chinese side of your family feel/react were you to write using the terms chink or slant in reference to Chinese people?

Words carry baggage, and that's why they can create stereotypes so succinctly.

Few people have ever heard of Ng Moi, despite her having been one of the world's great martial artists. However, everyone has heard of Bruce Lee, another great top-ten.

A little known story: when the casting was taking place for the movie and subsequent TV show Kung Fu, Master Lee was refused the role because he had a Chinese accent. Instead, they chose David Carradine (born John Arthur Carradine) because he spoke English (on occasion with Chinese 'intonations' in the movie and series). Hard to believe that Cato from the Green Hornet was seconded to Mr Carradine, but he was.

You will do as you do, and no, you have no responsibility for other people's interpretation of your motive or intent, but regardless, in the final analysis, you will live with your decision(s) as do we all.

Best wishes to you.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 03 Nov 11 - 07:35 PM

BTW, 999, I may have given the wrong impression. The only member of my family who is directly Chinese (i.e. by nationality) is my maternal grandmother, who was born in 1927 and came to Malaysia to marry my grandfather. Both my parents are ethnic Chinese born in Malaysia. I don't know; I've never asked my parents (or grandparents, who I am lucky enough to see fairly frequently), but I'm sure they'd be a bit apprehensive. My grandmother can't speak English, so I've never asked her.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 03 Nov 11 - 07:41 PM

Thank you, ME1. I appreciate knowing that.

However, don't rewrite the story before you have the story.

Keep well.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 03 Nov 11 - 08:38 PM

refresh.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 03 Nov 11 - 08:54 PM

I understand now.

I do NOT mean Chinese by nationality. I know a Caucasian who is Chinese. His mom gave birth to him in China. He is not Chinese by ethnicity. Nor is he allowed to be Chinese (PRC) by nationality. He is, however, Canadian.

I don't wish to mince words or play games with the issue, which I see as being that of the aptness of appellations or stereotypes. If you think it's wrong, however you interpret the word wrong, don't use it, for there, there be dragons, imo.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 04 Nov 11 - 02:09 AM

Thanks. Anyway, I highly doubt someone in the 19th century would refer to themselves like that, anyway


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 04 Nov 11 - 04:11 PM

Refresh.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 05 Nov 11 - 01:21 AM

BTW, I was thinking some more about this and realising that it is a question of "Can stereotypes be redeemed?" which is usually accomplished through retelling I also remembered that there is a graphic novel called Fagin The Jew which is basically Oliver Twist from Fagin's point of view, as well as a book called The Wind Done Gone which is retelling of Gone With The Wind from Scarlett's (original character) half-sister's perspective.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 05 Nov 11 - 01:22 AM

*basically*


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 05 Nov 11 - 06:14 AM

That's for the first sentence.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Nov 11 - 02:24 PM

Talking about books that present a different angle on an existing story, a splendid example is Jan Needle's "Wild Wood", which retells the story of The Wind in the Willows from the point of view of the weasels, who liberate Toad Hall from the bloated Mr Toad, and set up a commune for the creatures who had been so downtrodden - "the sturdy, starving heroes of the rural proletariat."

It deserves to be better known.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: BTNG
Date: 05 Nov 11 - 03:30 PM

I'll take the original, unreconstucted The Wind In The Willows thank you. Weasels are weasels, whether four or two legged


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Nov 11 - 03:59 PM

A good alternative version doesn't damage the original, it enriches it, which that one by Jan Needle succeeds in doing.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: BTNG
Date: 05 Nov 11 - 04:09 PM

What Jan Needle actually says on her website, about Wild Wood, from which apparently you've quoted

as follows:

"My first book - although not my first published - was my version of Kenneth Grahame's masterpiece The Wind in the Willows. Much as I had always loved Toad, it occurred to me one Sunday afternoon that if you looked at him through jaundiced left-wing eyes (God forbid!) he might turn out somewhat less lovable. I did, and he did too. A fat and jolly plutocrat, more money than sense, with friends who lived lives of idleness and eternal pleasure. From there, it was a small step to redreaming the villains of the Wild Wood as sturdy, starving heroes of the rural proletariat. (My God, we really need an exclamation mark there!)


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Nov 11 - 05:07 PM

That's why I gave the link. Tongue in cheek, with a serious edge.
..........................
Of course every film or TV version of Oliver Twist has featured major changes in the plot.

The BBC TV version broadcast in 2007 made a good few interesting modifications - notably they had Bill Sykes hang himself in remorse.   And his dog survived, and was adopted by the Artful Dodger, after attending Fagin'sa hanging. Fagin was treated more sympathetically too, though not by the law.
..........................
Another notable reworking of a story is William Golding's "Lord of the Flies", drawing on R.M.Ballantyne's "Coral Island", but digressing rather a long way from the original.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 05 Nov 11 - 05:53 PM

Oh, and incidentally, didn't the BBC 2007 version also have Sophie Okonedo as Nancy? And because Sophie Okonedo is mixed-race (half-Nigerian), a lot of people were talking about how it was implausible? I don't think it is, because there have been Black people in London since at least the 17th century, according to my research.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Nov 11 - 06:30 PM

Plenty of black Londoners mentioned in Mayhew's "London Labour and the London Poor". I suspect that if most people in England traced their ancestry back a couple of centuries they'd find some black ancestors.

Incidentally though Mayhew was reporting in 1851, a few years after Oliver Twist was published, he had a lot of material that helps put flesh on the bones - see here for material relevant to the Jewish community.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 05 Nov 11 - 06:39 PM

Wow! Thanks a lot (non-sarcastically) for that, McGrath! That second bit is the most relevant to the plot.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: BTNG
Date: 05 Nov 11 - 06:46 PM

"The hardest thing to write in a transportation story would be the convicts' racist attitudes"


What's so hard or difficult?

you have two choices, either write the book and include the attitudes or not write the book at all, anything else would be dishonest, not to say catering to the modern politically inept.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 05 Nov 11 - 10:02 PM

What about the issue of a stereotyped physical appearance eg. Dickens' character has a hooked nose, which is a stereotype with some basis in fact. Is it possible to describe a character as having an appearance that fits part of the stereotype without reinforcing it? Maybe by saying, "The only thing stereotypically X about Y was his red hair ?" But is there another way of saying it? I don't know if "stereotypically" was used often in the 19th century the way we use it today.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 05 Nov 11 - 10:52 PM

Thought I should add that I am working on it as I am posting on this thread and checking the replies.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 06 Nov 11 - 12:10 AM

Refresh.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 06 Nov 11 - 12:23 AM

Just found out through the Online Etymology Dictionary- a link on the Wikipedia article on Stereotype that stereotype in its modern sense is first recorded in 1850


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 06 Nov 11 - 01:35 AM

Fagin has of course a hook-nose in Cruikshank's original illustrations to OT; & such was particularly prominent in Alec Guinness'a make-up in the 1948 film, and to an extent tho not quite so caricatured, Ron Moody's in Oliver.

But I do not remember this feature being actually mentioned by Dickens in the novel. I take it that it was just assumed that Jews would have this feature. It will certainly be found in all those charming Punch cartoons up to about the 1920s.

Many Jews have this feature, of course; but by no means all. Not prominent e.g. either side of my family.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 06 Nov 11 - 02:24 AM

MtheGM, do you know anything about whether the word "stereotypically" would have been commonly used in the 19th century?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 06 Nov 11 - 02:41 AM

Not specifically, Morwen. You seem to have used the online dictionary to establish an earliest date. My Oxford Dictionary gives examples from 1854 & 1860 from Mrs Gaskell & Thackeray. So it seems to have been used in literature with expectation of the reader's comprehension.

~M~


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 06 Nov 11 - 02:44 AM

Those are of 'stereotyped'. It gives an 1864 usage of 'sterotypically from one Fitzpatrick - "They replied stereotypically, 'Give it up!'"


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 06 Nov 11 - 03:00 AM

Thanks for that.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 06 Nov 11 - 03:11 AM

That means I can use it. I was worried it sounded too modern.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Nov 11 - 05:29 AM

"Stereotypical" in that sense would definitely sound out of place, I'd say. Though the word stereotype was coined in 1798 for printing, it doesn't appear to have been used in the modern way until the 1920s.

I can't see why red hair can be seen as particularly Jewish. In fact if it wasn't for Dickens, if you introduced a character called Fagin, and said he had red hair, I think most readers would assume he was meant to be Irish.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 06 Nov 11 - 05:33 AM

What are your grounds for saying that, Kevin, when Morwen & I {she online & I in OED} have found examples of exactly that use of 'stereotyped' & 'stereotypical' from 1850s on. Haven't you been paying attention, you scallywag. Go & stand in the corner!

Or at least produce your documentary evidence as we have produced ours.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 06 Nov 11 - 05:48 AM

The red hair thing is just an example, like say if I had a character who was Irish and want to show that part of his appearance fits the stereotypical Irish appearance.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: johncharles
Date: 06 Nov 11 - 07:15 AM

Not sure about your research into thios but the following might be worth a read
Jewish presences in English literature
By Derek Cohen, Deborah Heller


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Nov 11 - 08:30 AM

American journalist Walter Lippmann wrote "Whether right or wrong (...) imagination is shaped by the pictures seen (...) originally printers' words, and in their literal printers' meanings were synonymous. Specifically, cliché was a French word for the printing surface for a stereotype.[3] The first reference to "stereotype," in its modern, English use was in 1850, in the noun, meaning "image perpetuated without change."

I think its highly unlikely that anyone in the 1830s would have written in terms of "racial stereotypes". The stereotyping technology had been invented a few years previously, but not the metaphor derived from it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 06 Nov 11 - 10:37 AM

Don't know anyone specifically mentioned the 1830s, Kevin. Morwen established some 1850s usages; asked me what I knew, & I found some 1850s-60s ones of 'stereotyped' also, + one incontrovertible one of 'stereotypical' from 1864. So what are you objecting to, precisely?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Nov 11 - 11:33 AM

Those references aren't in relation to racial stereotypes, for one thing. I suspect for any use of stereotype in that context you'd have to come a whole lot further up towards or into the 20th century.

Moreover the events of Oliver Twist are envisaged as happening in the 1830s, not the 1850s or 1860s. Anyone writing at that time would surely use different terms to express the same idea - words like stamp, character, quality, type or maybe typical.

It'd be a bit like using the term "role model" and defending it by demonstrating that the words role and model were both current at the period.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 06 Nov 11 - 05:09 PM

johncharles, thank you for that. McGrath of Harlow, you've confirmed my suspicion- thank you- but wouldn't the use of typical in that sense (ie describing a person's appearance) ring alarm bells in the average person's head?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Nov 11 - 05:54 PM

I think I'd prefer to say something like "the commonly held notion".

Getting the language right for another period is very tricky - it's not just the words themselves, its the assumptions underlying them. What is a commonplace in one time might be a scandalous paradox in another.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 06 Nov 11 - 06:04 PM

It's a street kid who is narrating the story. (Yes, a literate street kid! But there's a reason for that) and I highly doubt a street kid, even a literate one, would use excessively formal words.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 06 Nov 11 - 06:15 PM

The reason is that the fences/kidsmen in question educate the kids so that they'll know how to make stolen items untraceable- eg. removing makers' names from jewellery- and easier to sell on the streets. Definitely plausible for the time period- I think- and for the characters.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 06 Nov 11 - 08:27 PM

Refresh.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 06 Nov 11 - 09:37 PM

I'm rewriting part of it now, because thanks to reading that Mayhew extract - thanks again, McGrath of Harlow - I have now decided that Fagin's front is going to be that of a street trader. No-one is going to necessarily think it is suspicious that a street trader is accompanying by a bunch of kids.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 07 Nov 11 - 12:49 AM

Refresh.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 07 Nov 11 - 05:39 AM

*accompanied*


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 Nov 11 - 03:47 PM

So far stereotypes are concerned, I'd imagine that the way your lad might see it would be that Fagin was a funny sort of Jew, what with him scoffing pork sausages and bacon and being partial to oysters. He didn't wear that stuff that real Jews go in for - and evidently not interested in praying and so forth. Apart maybe from his nose you'd never think he was a Jew.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 07 Nov 11 - 07:38 PM

McGrath of Harlow, I'm fairly sure there were secular Jews around in the 1830s. Certainly not every "Christian" person goes to church often, or "Muslims" to mosques, and some people have no religion at all, (me, for example- not    One of my friends is of Polish descent and both of her parents' But my interpretation of Fagin is going to be different from Dickens' character---- understatement. He's a street trader in secondhand goods , Kind of Ikey Solomon-esque. And he's religious (when he can find the time, such as a few minutes, because street traders had to get up at dawn), and it's not obvious except with the prayers and the not eating pork and shellfish (I know that's not all that's involved in kosher- I've done some research). BTW, according to my research into information on Judaism, even a religious Jew can break the laws in emergency situations.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 07 Nov 11 - 08:42 PM

*to start a religious discussion"
*families are not religious*


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 07 Nov 11 - 10:00 PM

No, even a religious Jew may NOT break the food laws unless given dispensation by an authority. Judaism is not a negotiable faith, nor is it a negotiable religion. The Pentateuch defines the law. It is respected. The Mesusa is nothing more or less than the Law. Do not think it can be reasoned with. It IS!

When we kiss it entering the house, it is simply a recognition of Moses' laws. We are told he got it (them) from G-d. So, sue me.

You seem to feel that the world will be as you wish. That's cool by me, but do not think the world will be as you wished you'd wished it would be. And stop making assumptions about Jews. We are as old as YOUR ancestors.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 07 Nov 11 - 10:54 PM

999- OK. I don't think I made myself clear, and I don't think before I act. All I can say is this: I did some research which indicates that in a life-and-death situation, if you (general) are a Jew or a Muslim, according to religious authorities from both faiths, and the sites I've looked at have really comprehensive information, a lot which comes from a religious Jewish perspective, like yours. Apparently a person is allowed exemptions from religious law if they are in a life-threatening (emergency) situation; i.e. they are nearly starving and there is literally nothing else to eat but religiously prohibited food, or desperately need a blood transfusion and the only way to get it is in a way which breaks religious laws.    I don't wish the world to be a certain way, and I'm sorry if I came off like I was stereotyping.. as in "I'm not racist, but..." , only it would sound like "I'm not anti-Semitic, but..." The thing is, some Jewish people fit the stereotyped appearance. For most stereotypes of appearance, there exists a person/people who fit that stereotype i.e. I have the stereotyped Chinese "slanted eyes". A lot of stereotypes are exaggerated versions of truths.

The thing is, they're not the whole or complete truth for everyone in that particular group and the thing that creates a stereotype based on observation is when they are applied to an entire group ; ie. "All Chinese and Japanese have slanted eyes". No they all don't. Only some. "All Jews have hooked noses". No they all don't. Only some.     Not all stereotypes are like this, but a lot are . Can you describe someone as having a stereotypical feature without reinforcing the stereotype? Can you quote a prayer from someone else's religion without being seen as disrespectful toward that religion? Those are hard questions. It's difficult to handle other cultures and religions respectfully and well in writing, especially when you're handling a story that a significant percentage of people from that group find offensive. People (and I hope I don't sound again like I'm making an assumption) inside a minority group, and even in a majority group, tend to accept certain things (ie stereotypes) from people inside that group (born, married, raised) in it that they wouldn't accept from outsiders. If an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person made ATSI (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) jokes, people would just laugh, but if a non-ATSI person made that joke, they would be called a racist. But I'm going to try to be respectful, without being patronising, and I hope I can do that.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 07 Nov 11 - 11:02 PM

Actually, people wouldn't just laugh , they would do a double-take and laugh . I don't know any ATSI people personally, and I have never been faced with that situation, so that's probably another assumption, but the thing is, stereotypes tend to be more accepted when they come from insiders than outsiders.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 08 Nov 11 - 12:06 AM

There's another question and it is; can you take a character that was originally a stereotype and not make them a stereotype? Or are originally stereotypical characters always stereotypes?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 08 Nov 11 - 12:10 AM

Because I actually want to do this in a way which isn't stereotypical and is respectful without being patronising or sounds like a person who doesn't follow a religion trying to teach others about it .


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 08 Nov 11 - 01:05 AM

Refresh. I am working on the story while posting.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 08 Nov 11 - 03:45 AM

Refresh again.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 08 Nov 11 - 04:01 PM

Does anyone still want to continue this discussion? I apologize if I accidentally offended anyone.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 09 Nov 11 - 05:28 AM

Refresh.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 09 Nov 11 - 05:45 PM

Does anyone share my opinion that if you got rid of Fagin's miserliness, he would no longer be a stereotype?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 09 Nov 11 - 07:19 PM

OK. The reason that Fagin is a stereotype (as I posted several times before on this thread) is that he is a miser. So in my opinion, if someone wrote a version of OT in which Fagin is not a miser, he would no longer be a stereotype.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 10 Nov 11 - 02:34 AM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 10 Nov 11 - 02:49 AM

Something I'd like to add is that this question is one with no easy answer, based on the fact that most stereotypes are exaggerations of the truth and as McGrath of Harlow said earlier on, there will be people who fit part of the stereotype. The problem is the fact that stereotypes are used as a way of identifying a person; this person is X, so they must like Y, for example, and can affect the ways some others see the stereotyped group. Thanks everyone who posted on this thread for your opinions and thoughts on this question.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 10 Nov 11 - 10:03 AM

Stereotypes do not work necessarily because they are true; they work because the characteristics they play on are perceived to be true.

For example, to support claims of 'the Jew' as being criminal, the Nazis who had outlawed all occupations for Jewish people then reasoned that if they were able to remain alive and fed, they MUST be law breakers by virtue of the fact they hadn't starved to death.

In England, there has been a history of Jew hating, mostly based on stereotypes that were unfounded in anything we recognize as reality today. We have Shakespeare for example who was unlikely to have met any Jewish people in his time. Nor is it likely that Marlowe or Chaucer did either. Yet they drew on an established stereotype and were able to play to the audiences' prejudices, prejudices that resulted from the stereotypes leading to further stereotypes resulting from the prejudices ad nauseam.

The miser stereotype results from church dogma that disallowed Christians to lend money. Because Jews were not included in that, an area of business they were able to work in was money lending. So for this, they were misers. Oy!

The question of whether Chaucer, Marlowe and Shakespeare were anti-Semites is puerile. None of them knew any Jews, so how could they have spoken from experience?

Fagin was a crook, plain and simple--well, maybe not so plain and not so simple, but a crook he was. But there are no handy stereotypes for crooks, and there's the rub.

I think that perpetuating the 'myth' actually perpetuates hatred towards Jewish people. It continues a long tradition of that in England, a tradition that led to more modern writers (Eliot, Chesterton, Belloc) getting sucked in, also. At some point it has to stop.

I do not use terms like 'to welsh on a bet' or 'gyp someone'. Nor do I use the phrase 'to jew someone down'. Nor do I allow those terms to be used in my presence or household by people with whom I speak or guests at my door.

The use of stereotypes can also be seen as laziness on the part of the author, and in many cases it is, for it is far more difficult to create a character from scratch--good or bad--than it is to call upon old prejudices and stereotypes.

IMO


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Nov 11 - 10:24 AM

There are multiple stereotypes for any group - being miserly is only one among many for (say) Jews or Scots. Other stereotypes for the same group might involve people who enjoyed spending lavishly.

If a character is memorable and doesn't conform to any existing stereotype they are liable to give rise to a new stereotype.

Of course some stereotypes can be the reverse of offensive. That doesn't make them any more (or less) true.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 10 Nov 11 - 04:18 PM

The thing is that, 999, that stereotypes of appearance and naming are more difficult to avoid. Often those stereotypes exist because those names and physical features tend to be more common in the stereotyped group. They're not the truth about the group, but some people in the group do fit them. So, for example, if a writer has a character named Patrick who's Irish, redheaded, and speaks in a thick Irish accent and uses stock Irish phrases, would he or she necessarily be just reinforcing the stereotype? because it's not like there aren't Irish people who are redheaded and have thick accents and possibly use stock phrases. Of course, my question is more about appearance and only a little bit about dialect, but the example is similar.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 10 Nov 11 - 05:17 PM

So, are the other characters in your story going to be stereotypes?

ME1: I've said pretty much all I have to say on this thread to do with this topic. I feel like I'm in a revolving door. I wish you well with the story.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 10 Nov 11 - 06:39 PM

Okay (thinking for a while), 999, I didn't say stereotypes were true, as in completely true for all members of a particular group. Perhaps I should have said, they are exaggerations and misinterpretations of historical truths or elements of historical truths, which do not apply to all members of particular group(s). What I meant was this; basically, a lot of stereotypes arose because of things (occupations, names etc) that were more common among certain ethnic or religious groups. The dominant majority culture sees these things and due to common beliefs in their own cultural context about those groups (and prejudices due to fear of the unknown, fear of being overtaken by another culture for example) misinterpret and notice these things - names, dialect, that seem to be common among people from those groups, and they basically take it as the be-all and end-all about that group.

Your above example of the stereotype of Jews being miserly, as you said, came from the fact that from the Middle Ages on to the 17th and 19th centuries, a common occupation of Jewish people was usury, and that this was a common occupation for them because the Christian Church forbade Christians to lend money with interest.
Getting to the point; if I was (I'm not) writing a historical novel about Medieval England, I would probably be justified in creating a Jewish moneylender for reasons of historical accuracy, but I wouldn't be justified in portraying this hypothetical character as a miser. So back to this story, I would be justified in creating a Jewish fence character who just happens to "look like a Jew", (in the eyes of some people who think that Jews all look a certain way)   but I obviously would not, as in the medieval example, be justified in portraying him as a miser. Do you get what I'm saying? Basically, the issue is the stereotype of the miser. And no, none of them is a stereotype.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 10 Nov 11 - 06:55 PM

Correction: *might be justified*


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 10 Nov 11 - 07:11 PM

IMO, a stereotyped appearance only becomes a stereotype if the rest of the character is a complete stereotype too. As a btw, my version of the Fagin character is not a miser.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 11 Nov 11 - 02:59 AM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Nov 11 - 08:35 AM

Some misers are Jews, most misers aren't Jews and most Jews aren't misers. And "misers" is a very flexible term, with a range of meanings - what some people might call miserly others would call thrifty, and vice versa.

And while we are all in one sense unique, we all actually have enough qualities in common with some other people to make it reasonable to class us together as the same type. Ethnicity is just one of the aspects involved, by no means the most important in most circumstances. Consider the stereotype "Morris Dancer"...


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 11 Nov 11 - 05:22 PM

And what's that stereotype, MGoH?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Nov 11 - 05:57 PM

That's a question that might call for a thread of its own up in the music section... It might get rough!


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 11 Nov 11 - 10:40 PM

Another interesting thing is something I read that "stereotypes shift" ie. stereotypes that used to refer to the Irish ie. drunk, neglect their children apparently now apply to Black people. So, for example, you can create an Irish character who drinks, or is a miser (by that I mean they won't spend a thing) and (I assume) very few people might call you out on that. Create a Jewish character who's a fence. That's also fine, as far as I know, because from what I've read and heard and assume, very few people think of Jews as criminals in that way anymore, now it's shifted to Black (American + British) people and Roma people (I've heard A LOT of things about Roma adults supposedly maiming Roma children's limbs to train them as beggars, training them as pickpockets etc, from my friends who were on holidays in Europe, particularly France and Italy, with their parents. I've got no doubt that Roma in some European countries tend to be more highly profiled and noticed in petty crime, due to the old prejudices against them which generally still exist in Europe, as you may know. It makes me uncomfortable when my friends say stuff like that). I think it's because Roma people also tend to be the last ethnic group a person can get away with offending, because people in general- the ones I know- think they don't exist or that they aren't an ethnic group) or Italian people (Mafia stereotypes) there's a difference between that and the stereotype of the Jewish cheapskate/miser, which some people still hold. One is still in existence, the other has (apparently) faded. So, that's why if I plan to write about Jewish (or Roma, especially Roma) I want to avoid stereotypes like the miser or the magical fortune teller


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 11 Nov 11 - 10:44 PM

*characters*


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 12 Nov 11 - 05:35 AM

Refresh.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 12 Nov 11 - 05:35 PM

Refresh again.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 12 Nov 11 - 05:43 PM

Ah....!

How refreshing. ;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 12 Nov 11 - 07:37 PM

ha, ha, ha. It depends on whether the stereotype still applies to the particular group. If anyone can give me an example of a contemporary (1960s-onwards) play, movie, or TV show ("Oliver" doesn't count, for obvious reasons) in a more recent setting which uses the Jewish fence stereotype, I would love to look at it. I think the only reason the Jewish fence stereotype is even known in the 21st century is because of Dickens' novel. If OT hadn't been so popular, would anyone who isn't an academic know about that stereotype? I think no.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 13 Nov 11 - 05:09 AM

Anyone want to talk about shifting stereotypes? Is a stereotype able to be used if it no longer applies to a specific group of people?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 13 Nov 11 - 05:46 PM

I think so.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 13 Nov 11 - 06:21 PM

A miser who happened to be Jewish can conform to a stereotype of a miser even if there aren't any other misers who happen to be Jewish, and people don't think of Jews as misers (quite the revrse actually, I'd say). There's no suggestion that Scrooge, or all the other misers in literature, were Jewish.

Of course it'd be perfectly possible to have a miser who didn't conform to the general stereotype of misers, who are thought of as being crabby and unsocial. I mean, you could have a cheerful and affable miser. Actually Fagin is quite like that - not a stereotype miser at all, really.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 13 Nov 11 - 06:47 PM

Oops, forgot a word; the issue is the stereotype of the Jewish miser.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 14 Nov 11 - 02:56 AM

Refresh. Is there a difference between "thinking of Jews as misers" and "thinking of misers as Jews?" Because I don't see any difference. People still refer to Jewish misers/cheapskates, which is similar.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 Nov 11 - 09:32 AM

Is there a difference between "thinking of Jews as misers" and "thinking of misers as Jews?" No. But there's a big difference between thinking of a miser as a Jew, or thinking of a Jew as a miser, and thinking of misers as Jews, or thinking of Jews as misers.

I'd question whether it makes sense to talk about "a stereotypical" any ethnic group, because any group will have a range of stereotypes, which are not consistent with each other.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 14 Nov 11 - 04:47 PM

Yes. And some stereotypes no longer exist for a particular group, like that one of the Jewish old-clothes/secondhand goods dealer . Or they apply across several different groups, which can get pretty messy I'd imagine. MGoH, do you believe that you can use a stereotype if it no longer exists for a particular group? .


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 Nov 11 - 07:00 PM

I take it you mean should you - obviously you can always have a character who matches some stereotype that people don't believe any more.

I suppose if you think that doing that might somehow give that stereotype fresh life (and it's an unfavourable stereotype) that might be a reason to hesitate.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 14 Nov 11 - 08:25 PM

Is the old-clothes/second-hand goods seller stereotype technically unfavourable, though ? I know that most caricatures of travelling pedlars from the 19th century gave them strong accents and broken English, using immigrant/working class/religious status to make fun of them and implying that they were cheaters... that could be the unfavourable part.. because it was seen as a low occupation. I'm reminded of a scene in "Anne of Green Gables" where Anne Shirley says that she bought some hair dye off a Russian immigrant pedlar, and the hair dye turns her hair green (she wanted to dye it black), so the implication would be that the pedlar cheated her by selling cheap hair dye.. that's unfavourable I guess.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 14 Nov 11 - 11:28 PM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 15 Nov 11 - 02:49 AM

BTW, in my story the Fagin character is not a cheat either

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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Nov 11 - 02:30 PM

I don't think there was any assumption about pedlars being foreign in the 19th century. They were a valued part of life for people living out in the country far from any shops, and with no transport.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 15 Nov 11 - 04:32 PM

There's various (usually uncomplimentary) references to Jewish men collecting and selling old clothes and other second-hand goods. The hawkers/pedlars were often suspected of receiving, especially scrap metal traders in rural (and possibly urban) areas. Cartoons from the period also show what the upper/upper-middle class' predominant attitude towards poor Jewish traders was; often prejudiced. Apparently (or so I've read) street traders were frequently persecuted by the police.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 15 Nov 11 - 04:37 PM

Of course, that doesn't mean that a lot of people in the English/Australian/American countryside didn't have differing attitudes, as you said, transport was rarer and it would have cost a bit more to get to shops, if the nearest shop to your house/town/village is (say) 90 miles away.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 15 Nov 11 - 06:30 PM

"The period" means "the Victorian era as a whole".


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Nov 11 - 02:05 PM

A parallel with pedlars is the Internet - everyone knows the Internet is a good place to buy stuff. But it's also a great place for getting ripped off.

So we're a bit suspicious of bargains, and exchamge stories about scams - including get rich emails supposedly from Nigeria, for example. But that doesn't mean we don't value our access.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 16 Nov 11 - 09:45 PM

Yeah...


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 17 Nov 11 - 10:12 PM

The other thing about stereotypes is... some stereotypes have a greater impact on some groups of people than others. That's why racial, ethnic or religious cultural organisations are cautious about them, because in the past those stereotypes were behind those groups' persecution. You can create a character who's Christian and a miser, say, but if you create a character who's Jewish and a miser , people can take it the wrong way-- because that's a much more significant stereotype in a Jewish context than a Christian one.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 Nov 11 - 07:40 PM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 30 Nov 11 - 08:56 PM

Another thing. There's a difference (I'm starting to think) between a stereotype that is a stereotype because it's an exaggerated version of some form of truth (ie something that's truth for some people in a particular group) and a stereotype that just exists because it's a malicious rumour with no basis in fact. Often these stereotypes cannot be defined in just one category and that's why they're a problem . There's a difference between saying (for example) "All X have red hair", or dark skin, or blue eyes,or whatever physical feature that's thought of as "typical" for that group and simply saying "People from X group can have these features" versus saying "People from X group eat children". One of these is a stereotype that is based on fact for some members of a group but that's being applied to all members of it. The other is an observation about some members of that group. The third's got no basis in fact.

The reason why stereotypes of appearance are a problem is because it's hard to tell whether or not a person is using it for racist reasons; ie whether they're using it for intentional derogatory comments, or whether there's another purpose. If you don't know anything about the composer, you can't really tell. You can guess, but you won't really know unless you've got a definite statement or they're your close friend/acquaintance.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Dec 11 - 02:08 PM

I suppose there may be some Chinese people who don't have dark hair, ever and above those who are completely bald...


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