Letter to the Editor


If today were a day half a century ago, I would, at this very point in time, be writing a letter to the Times. In said letter I would address the sad deterioration of something or other that is the hallmark of our times, and probably threaten to Give Up Said Publication altogether, if the editor did not at his earliest convenience attend to the deterioration to which I was referring. 

But since I assume only mad people write the editor in these days of twitter, I shall refrain, and vent my frustrations on you instead. Consider yourself, for the duration, promoted to head of staff.

My complaint is with modern literature. And if it is a true reflection of modern times, then I am darn unhappy with those as well. Case in point: an awful Swedish concoction that has landed on my bedside table, thanks to one of my imbecile grandchildren. Adding insult to injury: there are three of them (oh, if only there were only three of the grandchildren) and they are very long and very tedious (Ditto the grandchildren. How do modern people grow so very tall? I suspect something in their feed).

They are riddled with sex and Nazis (back to the books now, and for those of us who lived through the war, those aren’t really concepts you want too near each other in a sentence) and appalling behavior on the part of both the young heroine and the aging lothario hero.

I am talking, of course, about the Girl who Got an Ill Advised Tattoo, then Played with Matches, and finished off by Kicking a Hornet’s Nest. All incredibly silly behavior, if you ask me.

Now, I have never been to Sweden, but if this is the way they behave there, no wonder they got ABBA for their sins. The vicar always wanted to visit because of the fjords. Turns out he would probably have been drowned in one by some kind of death-machine individual, so I am glad he never got his wish. Also, I cannot stand the sea, though I suppose if the sea was cancelled out by mountains… Anyhow, I digress.

Naturally, my beef goes much farther than this one aforementioned ridiculous piece of fiction. That I could leave aside. But it seems to me a general trend in modern literature to describe young women as lewd, loud, and with a poor rein on their wants. And all this goes under the heading of feminism.

Compare this Lisbeth Salander to Orlando for instance. Compare her to Dorothea in my ever beloved Middlemarch, or better yet Mary Garth. Compare her to Lysistrate, or even Becky Sharp. Is this what their struggle boiled down to in the end? The right to wear ill fitting clothes and refuse polite conversation? And the other young heroines of our times seem no better, from what I can glean. Liberation, today, hinges on sexual delinquency, assertiveness on lack of manners, self fulfillment on the degradation of common sense and decency. And I ask you – as editor – what you plan to do about it?

As you can probably gather, since I have been in such a fury, I haven’t even had time to progress further through you-know-what, and I don’t think I will tonight either. I think I must calm myself instead with a good, proper re-read of Tess of the d’Urbervilles.

But she is not either, come to think of it, a woman I would wish modern day girls to mould themselves after. I shall have to retreat to my library and search for inspiration.

Yours, in the struggle,


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