Sunday, October 13, 2013

Old fiction and Current events

A soldier's kissI read a lot and I read widely, not only in fiction but I also read non-fiction books now and then and I read more online articles and interviews and comments from everyday people than I could possibly count. Writers are supposed to be observers. They’re supposed to capture current events and share the stories behind them, not only to help expand the world in their contemporary time period, but to leave knowledge of the events and its lessons to the future, as well. Those who don’t read back in time are missing huge cues as to how people, times, and politics change, and how they don’t.

I’m a political animal. Those on my personal FB page know that already. I mainly keep it off my FB author page and I’ve kept it out of my blog in general. I’m not sure that’s a good approach. I write about political and social issues. I write about real people, families, parenting, small towns, big cities, mainly America since it’s what I know best but also visits into other countries, which I have done in practice as well as in writing. All of that is swept inside of politics, intentionally or not. We are all touched by it, no matter how disinterested we say we are.

When it was strongly recommended that I read Taylor Caldwell’s A Prologue To Love, I was only part interested. But when part of the recommendation was that my writing reminded the reader of Caldwell’s fiction, I gave in. It sounded like an old fashioned romance, which is fine, but not the first genre I choose. (Sorry, I’m not an Austen fan.) I’m more than halfway through now, and I can say it is not a romance in any form of the current definition. It’s fully mainstream in the vein of John Irving, but mainstream fiction, often called serious fiction, written by women is almost always termed something else, often women’s fiction. Sexism at its finest. A Prologue To Love IS mainstream fiction.

Published in 1961, it follows a woman through her life span in the years when America was in its industrial age and trouble was just starting to brew in Europe, in part due to Karl Marx and company, when in America the middle class was evolving that provided an option other than upper and lower classes. It’s fully a class struggle novel.

Last night while reading, I ran into a section I thought all of us now should read, so I’m sharing it. This should fall under the “fair use” rule, so don’t report me for copyright violation. I research that, also. I’m big on research

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[William is an English lord related to Timothy, a wealthyPrologueToLove-TaylorCaldwell American trying to move into politics.]

”What?” cried William incredulously. “What class struggle? You have no classes in America. Any man with a little intelligence and industry and inventiveness can make money in America and keep it and add to it and make himself a fortune, for you have no personal income rates as we have. Such a man can rise to any position in America. You haven’t any classes!”

”We’ll make them,” said Timothy, and smiled more pleasantly.

”Why, for heaven’s sake?”

”For political purposes. We’ll also pass an income tax law, which will prevent, eventually, any man from accumulating new wealth and will set to protect those who have inherited wealth and also to protect them from the Vandals.”

”What Vandals?”

”The middle class, which is invading all parts of our national life now as it is invading your British life. With its vulgarity and suety virtues and morality and bad taste. We’ll use the working class to destroy the middle class in America; we’ll give the working class such hatred and such lusts that the middle class will be so taxed to death to support the working class’s greed that they’ll go out of existence. Liberty, equality, fraternity! Every man as alike as every other man, if we have to chop off the heads that stand up above the crowd!” He laughed and thought that William’s face, looking down at his, was utterly uncomprehending and just a little stupid.

”Then,” said Timothy, “we who have the great old inherited fortunes will also have power. And we’ll invent our own aristocracy. America’s a republic, now. But so was Rome, for the first four hundred years. We’ll have an American ‘democratic empire’ eventually, ruled by those born to rule, with only the contented and obedient masses under them and no challenging middle class.”

”You’ll never be able to accomplish that in America,” said William. “You’ll never be able to make the people class-conscious, not when they know that a class society means the end of freedom for them.”

”But they’ll never know,” said Timothy. “Just as your own working class, which can become middle class with enough hard work and intelligence, will never know.”

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”The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” Albert Camus

More suggested reading about fiction and class struggle: The American Dream and the Crab Bucket on