Tasmanian Times

Arts

Saints and Savages

WILLIAM BOYD, New York Times, Sunday Book Review, Published: June 24, 2009

In 1854 Lady Jane Franklin, the widow of the polar explorer Sir John Franklin, visited Charles Dickens to ask for a favor. Dickens had just completed his novel “Hard Times” and was about to begin “Little Dorrit”; he was the most celebrated writer in England, at the zenith of his fame and popularity. Lady Jane wanted him to refute a recent article about her husband’s disappearance in the Arctic some nine years earlier, which implied that Franklin’s crew had resorted to cannibalism to survive. Dickens — outraged at the slur on this hero of the British Empire — published a furious counterattack in his own magazine, Household Words, and it is possibly the strangest and most intemperate piece of journalism he ever wrote: a near-racist tract claiming that it was physically and morally impossible for stalwart, civilized white men to descend to the level of “savages.” Read more here

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Richard Butler

    June 29, 2009 at 3:20 am

    #4 – Nah – dont believe Woodworker – it’s a made up character – a shallow apology for an human being – one of the little bits of scrub forestry doesnt want. I used to think it was a real person but it’s a character created by Lester Barker just to get the readers laughing a bit.

    The New York Times would love to have Woodworkers subscription – they are (according to Lester) trying to create some kind of ‘Fred Basset’ cartoon spot to accommodate the fiction.

  2. Mark

    June 29, 2009 at 12:49 am

    Just read the detail of #2! I have to comment!!!

    The “non-fiction crap the jerk writes” by definition would be “the facts”???

  3. Mark

    June 29, 2009 at 12:46 am

    #1 agreed. I saw the performance in Sydney at the Opera House. So often the truth is raised through the arts much to the discomfort of politics and history (research Euripides for anyone seeking to expand their perspectives in life).

  4. George Harris aka woodworker

    June 28, 2009 at 2:39 am

    So Flanagan is at it again. I will have to sign up to give NYT readers an alternative point of view, particularly on the non-fiction crap the jerk writes….

  5. Richard Butler

    June 27, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    There is a most superb, moving performance by the Bangarra Dance Group which tells the story of Methinna. I saw it last year at the State Theatre in Melbourne and the house was full. Not only was the audience treated to some fine dramatic dance and emotional expression – but the story of the longing and the separation literally tore the audience up. Towards the end no-one bothered to discreetly wipe their tears away, and we were left in a quite uncommon state – one of admiration and respect for the superb craftsmanship and artistic endeavour and the exquisite pain that was universally felt. It took perhaps half and hour for the theatre to clear at the end. A silent, passing parade.

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