What's a name? - So Many Books...
May. 10th, 2011
10:30 pm - What's a name?
I have been useless at posting recently. Pretty useless even at keeping up with other people's posts, but definitely use.less. at doing my own. And now I'm not even back posting with a fun rant. I generally like Nancy Springer's Enola Holmes books quite well, and think they have a lot of very engaging elements. But in The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline there's a bit about 'invalids' that simply has to be challenged. (I'll put it behind a cut, shortly.)
In pleasanter names - the lovely asakiyume, who has one of the nicest RL names I know, sent me a jar of this honey, which is sweet in every way. (Okay, that's pretty cheesy - or corny, if you're in the US - sorry! Cheesy/corny-ness aside, it's the truth.)
And one of the highlights of the year in books has been announced - MotherReader's Sixth (Sixth!!) Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge. I can't wait to start planning the books - with any luck, the new Penderwicks book will arrive in time for it too.
Back to names, Younger Daughter has her last exam tomorrow morning (classical studies - Plato & Roman letter-writers) - it's been a fairly arduous stretch for her. I had a look at index cards she'd done for a module on Athenian drama and Roman comedy, and the Terence plasys were unreal - names were recycled constantly, and trying to keep track of the Pamphilas, Phaedrias (that one's not even a female character) and Philumenas is ridiculously hard. They all seem to have sets of prostitutes, main characters and fathers - though Y.D. says the mothers are at least easy, as they're usually Sostrata. I was very taken with the name Philumena (pronounced, as far as we know, more like voluminous than I'd have expected) and went around saying it for a day.There was a girl in my school named Philomena Mulligan - a name so rhythmic I think even my two will remember it till their dying day.
Enola goes looking for the elderly Florence Nightingale, in order to try to find her landlady, who's been mysteriously kidnapped. She thinks she may be dead, in fact, but on going to the nursing school Nightingale established, is told she never leaves her home. And we get this passage:
"She's, ah, um, she's an invalid?" Bad news, or so I thought, for I knew invalids as peevish, malingering, demanding people who simply chose not to be valid, so to speak. Scarcely a household in upper-class England had not at one time or another suffered under the paradoxical power of the invalid. Many a lady thwarted had taken to her bed for the sake of ordering folk about.
When she finally manages to speak with Florence Nightingale, Enola realises that she's been wrong about her, because she's in fact, a 'rebel' like Enola - taking to her bed in order to avoid the time-wasting that is the daily life of most women of her class. But this does nothing to challenge what Enola has said about invalids, which is downright vicious.
It could be argued that most people reading won't equate Victorian invalids with people today with disabilities, but I simply don't think that's enough to excuse the kind of sweeping, generalised prejudice displayed here. This side of the Atlantic, we may have seen an upsurge in the talk about disability cheats, and people 'lazing' around at the expense of the hard-working in the last year, with David Cameron's attacks, but that doesn't mean there hasn't been a lot of rubbish voiced for many years, into which this diatribe fits all too neatly.