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Black Mischief
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Group Reads Archive > Black Mischief by Evelyn Waugh (2013 Reading Challenge)

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message 1: by Ally (new) - added it

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1653 comments Mod
Please use this thread to discuss:

Black Mischief by Evelyn Waugh Black Mischief by Evelyn Waugh


Beth (bibliobeth) | 27 comments Oh my goodness, have just finished this and am really not sure what to think. While I appreciated the excellent writing and the wit, the er... "Black Bitch" part made me feel really uncomfortable.


message 3: by Jan C (new) - added it

Jan C (woeisme) | 1525 comments Okay, it looks like the library has one copy and has another on order. Not on kindle but it looks like Amazon has it in paperback. Barnes & Noble doesn't have it. One of the other suburban libraries has several copies but they are compilations.

I wasn't going to go in to the library until I had read Extraordinary People but that's not due back until the end of the month. Maybe I can make an extra trip. Once I get over this bug which I am hoping is not the flu.


message 4: by Ally (new) - added it

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1653 comments Mod
I was wondering whether time and changing attitudes would come up within this reading challenge. For my part I think its still very interesting to take a historical look at prevailing attitudes of the period but I too will probably feel slightly uncomfortable with some of the narrative at this distance of time and with the bnefit of hindsight.


message 5: by Val (new) - rated it 5 stars

Val Some of the prevailing attitudes of the time were quite horrendous in hindsight, but Waugh exaggerates them to make them look ridiculous sometimes and perhaps to make people challenge their assumptions.


Beth (bibliobeth) | 27 comments Thinking further on it, he does tend to poke fun at a variety of people regardless of race/colour. English toffs get a good battering! I do agree with Val in that he is challenging our assumptions.


Lara Biyuts (larabiyuts) | 3 comments Evelyn Waugh is one of my favorite British authors, and I flatter myself that I've read his all fiction (translated.) His Black Mischief is one of his funniest, but my impression may be a matter of the excellent translation. Thank you for the group.


Gary Smith (gary622) | 17 comments Any history buff know what the Dreyfus matter was that Emperor Seth mentions in passing about midway through? As in, is Basil convinced of Drewfus' innocence?


message 9: by Val (new) - rated it 5 stars

Val The Dreyfus matter was very well known at the time. Dreyfus was a French army officer convicted of treason. When evidence suggested that another officer was to blame instead the French courts suppressed it. Emile Zola wrote his famous 'J'accuse' open letter about it.
The matter became particularly famous because Dreyfus was not just a victim of injustice, he was a Jewish victim of injustice.


message 10: by Gary (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gary Smith (gary622) | 17 comments Ah. Thanks. I figured that was a topical ref., and so it proved...


message 11: by Gary (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gary Smith (gary622) | 17 comments Incident in Azania is a short story at the end of my Kindle edition. Anyone else read it?


message 12: by Val (new) - rated it 5 stars

Val It isn't in the paperback Gary.
Is this a short story he wrote earlier and then expanded into the novel? I know he did this with some of his other short stories: "The Man who loved Dickens" forms part of the basis for A Handful of Dust for example.


message 13: by Gary (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gary Smith (gary622) | 17 comments It said it was written the same year. Some of the characters are the same, but the plot isn't part of or expanded to be part of something in the novel. It's a pretty good story, actually.


Nigeyb I just happen to have finished this book, and whilst not participating in the challenge have just penned a quick review which might stimulate more discussion.

I have previously really enjoyed 'Scoop', 'A Handful of Dust', and 'Decline and Fall', and had heard good things about this book. Primarily I had heard that it was very funny. Whilst it certainly has a few moments of laugh out loud hilarity overall I thought it was a somewhat incoherent and inconsistent read.

One of the most striking things for a modern reader is the incessant casual racism that peppers the book. That said it's mainly just racist epithets, although there are a few obvious stereotypes that would have been widely accepted at the time the book was written. Overall though, at heart this is a satirical novel and much of the satire still rings true. The book also powerfully evokes Africa, and specifically the East of the continent where the fictitious island country of Azania is located.

The funniest parts of the book arise from the suspicions on the part of the French about the intentions of the British. The reports that the French receive invariably misinterpret the most innocent activities. There is also a very funny scene involving a couple of animal rights activists who are misconstrued as being in favour of animal cruelty.

Curiously the very best writing occurs right at the end of the book, when the main protagonist, who starts the tale as a shallow socialite, is forced to confront his traumatic experiences, which are brought into sharp relief when he reunites with some "bright young thing" friends.

Overall though I was slightly disappointed and would recommend 'Scoop', 'A Handful Of Dust', and 'Decline & Fall' over this book for a newcomer to Evelyn Waugh's work. Inexplicably I have still to read 'Brideshead Revisited' so cannot say where that fits into his work - though expect that it is very good, and probably another title to read before 'Black Mischief'.


Beth (bibliobeth) | 27 comments Some great comments Nigeyb, completely agree.


Nigeyb Thanks Elizabeth


message 17: by Lori (new)

Lori Baldi | 9 comments Funny enough, I'm about to start Brideshead Revisited. I read it decades ago and look forward to the revisit.


Nigeyb Lori wrote: "Funny enough, I'm about to start Brideshead Revisited. I read it decades ago and look forward to the revisit."

I hope to read it soon too. I only know it from the classic UK TV series of the 1980s starring Anthony Andrews and Jeremy Irons.


Nigeyb Lori wrote: "Funny enough, I'm about to start Brideshead Revisited. I read it decades ago and look forward to the revisit."

You've inspired me to read it too. I think I read half of it when the classic UK TV series of the 1980s starring Anthony Andrews and Jeremy Irons. was on but, for whatever reason, never finished it.

50 odd pages in and I am in raptures. It's so beautifully written. It also plays into a theme that always works for me: an idealised and lost youth seen through the prism of maturity.


Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 651 comments Val wrote: "Some of the prevailing attitudes of the time were quite horrendous in hindsight, but Waugh exaggerates them to make them look ridiculous sometimes and perhaps to make people challenge their assumpt..."
This is basically how I'm feeling. I enjoyed this, but it's definitely no Brideshead or Vile Bodies. It was amusing but not as funny as I would've expected. Basil Seal isn't the best of Waugh's recurring characters. I believe he's the main character in Put Out More Flags, too, which also wasn't the best. The casual racism is problematic but I can't fault it too much because it is a product of its time. The whole thing with the Cruelty to Animals bit was pretty funny though, and might've been the best part in the book for me. Like I said, not bad, not great.


message 21: by Feliks (last edited Aug 05, 2013 10:04PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) "Some of the prevailing attitudes of the time were quite horrendous in hindsight"

My new favorite book. And I expect it to be my favorite for a long time. Refreshing! It is today's attitudes which are horrendous to me; this horrible false, contrived, hypocritical, phony sanitizing and censoring. The restriction of words and books will never make 'issues' go away. It aggravates every problem when you attack language itself; and in fact makes us all more vulnerable. George Orwell and William Lutz show us this, if nothing else. Stop 'running scared' from words!


message 22: by Val (new) - rated it 5 stars

Val The natives were shown as naked, spear-carrying cannibals Feliks, which is a bit stronger than merely using an inappropriate vocabulary. I do agree with you that changing the words used does not change the attitudes of racists, but it does make other people stop and think sometimes, so makes racism less casual.


Nigeyb Welcome to the BYT Group Feliks. And thanks also for your comment on my review of Black Mischief.

Feliks wrote: "My new favorite book."

Hurrah. Books are wonderful. Evelyn Waugh is one of my favourite writers - and also much loved by many people in this group.

We are currently reading a memoir by his brother, A Year to Remember: A Reminiscence of 1931. You can get involved here.

Thanks for your comments on Black Mischief....

Feliks wrote: "It is today's attitudes which are horrendous to me; this horrible, false, contrived, hypocritical, phony sanitizing and censoring. The restriction of words and books will never make 'issues' go away. It aggravates every problem when you attack language itself; and in fact makes us all more vulnerable. George Orwell and William Lutz show us this, if nothing else."

Lenny Bruce made a very similar point, and many others have too. On a personal level I agree that it might be helpful to remember that they are "only words". Caroline Criado-Perez has shown admirable courage and restraint at the hands of her Twitter abusers, and probably takes some solace from your suggested approach. That said, words and language are still used to oppress others, just as they are used to inspire and motivate.

As Val states, it is not necessarily the words in Black Mischief, more the underlying assumptions and stereotypes in many books written in the first half of the twentieth century, which are surprising to the modern reader. For example, there's frequently a lot of anti-semitism. Not surprising as anti-semitic attitudes were commonplace. Behind this irrational hatred and distrust lay a lot of assumptions about Jewish people. This anti-semitic mindset was a contributory factor in the Holocaust.

Black Mischief is primarily a satire on imperialism, and much of the satire still rings true. You didn't complete Val's quote in your post. The second part of her sentence makes Waugh's intention clear:

Val wrote: "Some of the prevailing attitudes of the time were quite horrendous in hindsight, but Waugh exaggerates them to make them look ridiculous sometimes and perhaps to make people challenge their assumptions. "

Since Waugh's time - and so far as I know - most developed countries have made discrimination on the grounds of gender, race, sexuality, disability, age, and religion illegal. We live in a very different era. Anything that improves equality, and reduces discrimination and oppression, must be a step forward.

Feliks wrote: "Stop 'running scared' from words!"

I am not sure that anyone here is 'running scared' from words. We're just discussing some of the outmoded attitudes and stereotypes that feature in this book (and many others of the era).

I am in favour of good manners; consideration for others; cultural sensitivity; and decency. I also still feel free to say whatever is on my mind.

Welcome again Feliks. I hope you'll find much to enjoy here at BYT.


message 24: by Feliks (last edited Aug 06, 2013 12:43PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) Val wrote: "The natives were shown as naked, spear-carrying cannibals Feliks, which is a bit stronger than merely using an inappropriate vocabulary. I do agree with you that changing the words used does not ch..."

Errm. I disagree. Its like you want no one to ever mention that there were ever any naked natives in Africa; nor ever any use of spears? You want to re-write history and suggest that this reality was unheard of, at the time Waugh was composing? Even though the Boer War had taken place just 25 years prior? Yes, there was a comedic cannibal scene. Was he saying that all Africans were cannibals? Was he saying that they will always be cannibals? Even if so..what of it? Let people say whatever they want when its obvious that its not--in fact--true.

These questions are above-and-beyond the obvious strangeness inherent to quibbling about the 'appropriateness' of something that Waugh invented out of his own imagination, as a fiction writer and as a comedy writer. Or the absurdity of arguing about 'race' in the first place; which scientists remind us is an entirely social construct.

Turn it around the other way. If a foreigner was writing about England and wrote a scene where a prostitute was murdered in the West End; would English people take offense and deem that they were never going to live down that Jack-the-Ripper association? Culture is a continually shifting, unsettled thing; every country has a grab-bag of junk from its past; some which is sinking deeper and fading from memory; and some is rising and becoming more prominent. Waugh was writing about a fictitious African country..he was artistically entitled to juxtapose just about anything he wanted if he felt it would make some flourish he particularly needed. Thus, if any Briton resents Jack-the-Ripper reference; he's being pretty silly; and I'd say the same thing about any Afrikan who feels 'put upon' by a 'cannibal reference'. Its idiotic and short-sighted.

In a larger sense: I feel that racism is probably never going away. I think its part of our human instincts and a deep part of our psychology. We're trained by our animal and our tribal nature to always recognize differences in others. Heck if you travel to the seas of Southeast Asia; did you know that every ethnicity there catcalls each other? Whether they're Burmese, Singapore, Malay, Javanese, Balinese, Sumatran, or Indian--they all call each other names like monkey, rat, toad. They heap abuse and scorn on each other; and whats it based on? Can a westerner even spot why? Doubtful. The point is, any two 'groups' of humans anywhere, will always objectify each other.

It is valuable and worthwhile progress to eliminate unfair treatment of people based on differences and inequalities; but it is ludicrous to pretend that inequalities and oddities don't exist in the first place. In the modern age we're supposed to embrace diversity, remember? The problem is, categories. Our senses are just not fine-tuned enough to register every precise, individual shade of hair or skin or eye color. We live with generalization. If someone's hair is fair; they're going to be called 'blond' and they might get called 'surfer dude'. Oh well! Get over it!

I stand by my opinion that 'attacking the words' is perhaps the least effective course. It simply paints a false veneer over the whole situation. Its just not a good direction for society to go in; and I am highly dubious that it ever makes anyone 'think twice' about how they view others. Furthermore, 'safe' euphemisms are just not worth the danger they put us in from governments. Clear, honest language is our best tool against manipulation from any direction. Trying to create a society where no one's 'feelings are ever bruised' is preposterous.


message 25: by Feliks (last edited Aug 06, 2013 12:17PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) Nigeyb wrote: "Welcome to the BYT Group Feliks. And thanks also for your comment on my review of Black Mischief...."

Thank you! Its been a long time since I was bowled over by a book and this experience was sensational. I'm still wrapped up in that 'afterglow' when an author has amazed you. What a writer! I always thought he would be more sombre and sentimental (as the tone was in the Brideshead miniseries). Clearly, he wrote with huge range of mood and sentiment.

Its just dismaying to visit the reviews for this book and find people in an uproar--as usual--about 'race'. There's so many other things one could focus on, in this book; but its all trampled over by this same old hobbyhorse everyone wants to ride. I will try to get back to some of those in my future comments. Not trying to start a brouhaha..


message 26: by Susan (last edited Sep 01, 2013 12:47AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Susan | 774 comments Really enjoyed re-reading this. My review is posted in case anyone is interested in reading it (why would you be frankly, but still....)
http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...
Waugh is the author more than any other who made me a reader, when I fell in love with "Brideshead Revisited" as a teenager and I owe him a lot. I feel the book was certainly un-politically correct, but it was the Europeans who, frankly, looked stupid. The inhabitants of Debra Dowa had the good sense to vanish at the first sign of trouble and return when it was all over!


message 27: by Feliks (last edited Sep 01, 2013 08:20AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) I want more political incorrectness. I want great big heaping piles of it. I want to dive into huge clumps of 'non-PC ideas' and roll around in them like leaves in the autumn.

I will definitely read your review.


Susan | 774 comments I heartily agree. I remember someone buying one of my kids a book of politically correct fairy tales when they were little and thinking that whoever wrote it had no understanding of children (or real life) at all. I have to admit, after I'd read the story of Little Red Riding Hood making friends with the wolf I gave it to the charity shop....


message 29: by Feliks (last edited Sep 01, 2013 09:43AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) I admit I can go a bit too far; it depends on how far the absurdity is, confronting me. Like last night, on GR's William Shirer board, some GR folks wanting to whitewash the history of the Third Reich because it sounds too harsh to their ears. Unbelievable. When things get to the point where people think they can redact history..I get hot-under-the-collar. You can't turn scholarship over to the dumb masses.


message 30: by Feliks (last edited Sep 12, 2013 08:07AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) Did anyone see the news story this week about the incident in Saudi Arabia? A 40-ish man married to an 8-yr old girl?

I don't see how it can be concluded otherwise than that to agree that many parts of the Third-World still abide by strange and unsettling customs, which are incomprehensible to westerners.

Waugh--in 'Black Mischief'--describes a scene of cannibalism. Some readers/commenters profess outrage that he would 'further this antique African stereotype'. Well, what's the basis for that complaint? If Saudi Arabia is still so brutal and patriarchal that it allows 8 yr-olds to be 'deflowered' ...let's just admit that savagery and backwardness are still thriving institutions in some countries. Admit it.

What irks me is the 'cherry-picking' manner in which we characterize other cultures. The work of Sir George Frazier (the Golden Bough) is scoffed at because he wrote his magnum opus on tribal ritual/belief systems before the advent of 'cultural relativism' which we now mostly uphold. His descriptions of the worlds tribes suggested native peoples are necessarily un-evolved (because they have not 'advanced' to the adoption of a mass religion like Anglo-Catholic Christianity). Okay! So we slam him for his latent assumption of superiority; and we encourage all writers following in his wake to acknowledge that a forest-dwelling-people-believing-in-tree-spirits can be just as cogent as Vatican II. Yet, when we hear that this same swamp-dwelling tribe denies women voting rights, or furthers animal cruelty, we are aghast, outraged, shocked--and *then* we're ready to see them 'adjusted' and converted to modern laws.

Choose one or the other. Either accept the validity of other cultures outright, or not at all! Let's be consistent with our vehemence. You can't label some practices valid and deny others. Its either all wrong, or all right.


message 31: by Val (last edited Sep 13, 2013 04:43AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Val There is a big difference between accepting the validity of a culture which includes activities inconsistent with ours and making things up about them. In Waugh's case I think he was intending to poke fun at people sitting in their drawing-rooms and getting a frisson of fear and excitement thinking about the primitive Africans, rather than poking fun at the Africans themselves (apart from the wannabe sophisticated, Europeanised Seth), but the general point stands.
There are many cultures which consider the menarche makes a girl a woman and therefor marriageable and yes, I think that is far too young.


message 32: by Greg (new)

Greg | 330 comments Feliks wrote: "Did anyone see the news story this week about the incident in Saudi Arabia? A 40-ish man married to an 8-yr old girl?

I don't see how it can be concluded otherwise than that to agree that many par..."


Feliks, I haven't got a clue where to start with an opinion. I applaud your well thought-out message. In Aldous Huxley's 'Point Counter Point' Spandrel and Philip are discussing these seemingly unanswerable socio-non-humanly-moral non equatable issues. Spandrel bursts out with this classic, "The world's an asylum of perverts.'

Western civilisation has to clean up it's own act before judging other cultures, although I totally agree with Val, some things are beyond the pale.
Where does one start with a moral perspective? I've never been able to understand how a civilised great nation could Napalm a third world village and now criticise Syria for using chemical weapons. Galileo had to renounce his discovery about the earth and sun otherwise the inquisition would do it's worst.

Social mores and time will never be in accord everywhere on earth at the same time.


message 33: by Feliks (last edited Sep 16, 2013 09:32AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) Val wrote: "There is a big difference between accepting the validity of a culture which includes activities inconsistent with ours and making things up about them. In Waugh's case I think he was intending to p..."

But, as I've pointed out, Waugh wasn't over-reaching or exaggerating. The truth of these foreign lands, outmeasures all fiction or hyperbole. They always do, they always have.

In a neighboring country to 'fictional Anzania'--today, last week, a 40 yr old raped an 8 year old. Not in 1930. Today. And he got a wrist-slap.

Righteous-protectors-of-downtrodden-peoples (always parodied in Waugh's own stories) seem only to pounce when a writer from the first-world doesn't bend-over-backward enough ..for another culture in the third-world. Its bogus and hypocritical.

Racism exists in every people. Everywhere. Not merely is it housed in the West, in white nations, directed 'towards' downtrodden, dark-complected, im-modern, tribal societies. Heck, if you assume they don't have their own discriminatory and demeaning epithets and connotations for white men, you are sadly mistaken! Pick any tribe in Africa, Asia, or South America which still exists and you will find racism even towards their own neighbors, just a few miles away.

No one is exempt or clean. These attitudes are a universal, and we'd better start to recognize it rather than always 'assign blame' solely to ourselves. That is utterly lacking in astuteness.


message 34: by Feliks (last edited Sep 15, 2013 09:59PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) Greg wrote: "Feliks, I haven't got a clue where to start with an opinion. I applaud your well thought-out message. In Aldous Huxley's 'Point Counter Point' Spandrel and Philip are discussing..."

Always a treat to see you comment. Sage individual. I like how you don't pounce to any too-easily-obvious answer, but strike a reserved judgment, acknowledging the complexity of the question on the table. Bravo.

Greg wrote: "Western civilisation has to clean up it's own act before judging other cultures..."

See my point above. I rather feel that we in the West are placed on the hook too immediately for a tendency which exists everywhere and in every people. This 'blame game' is getting on my nerves. Anytime you see just one culprit accused, ya gotta know something is wrong ... Martyr-du-Jour...


message 35: by Greg (new)

Greg | 330 comments Feliks wrote: "Greg wrote: "Feliks, I haven't got a clue where to start with an opinion. I applaud your well thought-out message. In Aldous Huxley's 'Point Counter Point' Spandrel and Philip are discussing..."

A..."


Thanks Feliks. Yes, I see the point you make. I feel I'm trespassing in this discussion as I haven't yet read Black Mischief. I'm reading Scoop at the moment. It appears the two books have a similar theme. In Scoop, there are many uses of derogatory words describing black people in the 'fictional' African Republic of Ishmaelia. I wonder in what sense was Evelyn Waugh using these words? Were these just acceptable references at that time or was Waugh drawing the attitudes of the European journalists with sarcasm and irony? I can't work this out. Even in fiction, derogatory racist words (I managed to get through this without using the words) from an earlier period now are shocking to me in this day and age. Using racist words are illegal in Australia. It wasn't that long ago Australia had an official 'White Australia Policy'. Up until the 1960s indigenous Australians were classed as flora and fauna, who couldn't vote. Now Australia is one of the worlds best examples of multiculturalism.

To your reference to the 'blame game', and 'racism exists everywhere', It brings to mind an irony, in Robert Hughes' book on America titled 'Culture of Complaint', in one chapter Hughes approaches the delicate subject of African Americans with typical Aussie bluntness, which if I remember correctly, didn't go down too well in the States at the time. He explained that when slavery was on an industrial scale in the Americas, the harvesting of slaves in Africa couldn't have happened without the complicity and eager cooperation of rival tribes.

I love sarcasm (in print), and the more sublime the better. I have to include this from 'Corruptions of Empire' (very appropriate to this discussion) by Alexander Cockburn, the British leftist journalist. In the section looking at journalism he ridicules the journalism industry awarding itself prizes like the Pulitzer. He says instead of giving a news photographer a Pulitzer for a photo of starving Ethiopians, "they should short -circuit the whole business and give a Pulitzer directly to the starving millions for consistent, if hungry, service to First World journalism." Sarcasm doesn't much better than that.

This sentence by Alexander Cockburn describes imperialism perfectly. "The imperial imagination thrives on amnesia."


Feliks (dzerzhinsky) Greg wrote: " He explained that when slavery was on an industrial scale in the Americas, the harvesting of slaves in Africa couldn't have happened without the complicity and eager cooperation of rival tribes...."

Well, sure. I thought everyone knew this. I would even so far as to say that in America--whenever race is discussed--people don't even bother to refer to this factoid anymore because its already acknowledged and admitted. The meat of the debate usually focuses elsewhere.

In my case as well--I don't see the diaspora as the issue anymore; obviously the wrong of that has long been established. What is irking me is the 'pendulum' swinging so far back the other way--towards some far-fetched impossible 'appeasement'--that language is being restricted. That really bothers me.


message 37: by Val (new) - rated it 5 stars

Val Feliks wrote: "In a neighboring country to 'fictional Anzania'--today, last week, a 40 yr old raped an 8 year old. Not in 1930. Today. And he got a wrist-slap."

I think the incident you are referencing happened in Yemen, which is in Asia and where the marriage was legal under current Yemeni law, but the sex was not. The location of Azania is imprecise, but it is almost certainly in East Africa and probably based on Ethiopia / Abyssinia more than any other country. There are few ethnic or cultural links between the two and those that exist are from trading and immigration, not indigenous traditions.
There are also no documented traditions of cannibalism in East Africa. There are in the Congo Basin, although there is debate about whether any of them pre-dated colonialism, in modern West African conflict zones and elsewhere in the world such as Oceania and the Americas.


message 38: by Feliks (last edited Sep 17, 2013 09:40AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) Val wrote: "I think the incident you are referencing happened in Yemen, which is in Asia and where the marriage was legal under current Yemeni law, but the sex was not. The location of Azania is imprecise, but it is almost certainly in East Africa and probably based on Ethiopia / Abyssinia more than any other country. There are few ethnic or cultural links between the two and those that exist are from trading and immigration, not indigenous traditions.

Eh? Are you hair-splitting my post, because I casually used the term 'neighboring' for these countries? Outlandish. This is a non-answer. Think of it this way: 'fictional Anzania', Saudi Arabia, and Yemen are all 'neighbors' because they're at least in the same part of the planet. Even the fictional 'Kush' of John Updike's fits. Africa and the Mid-East have ancient traditions which jar the modern world; its the most basic observation you can make about the entire region. If the rape story hadn't happened in one country, it might just have readily emerged from another. There is always some similar anecdote coming out of that area of the world. Beheadings, stonings, tribalism, etc. There was another item a few months ago about villagers believing in zombies because of sleeping sickness. Seriously, if you want to respond to my assertions I'd appreciate it if you address them squarely, head-on.


message 39: by Val (last edited Sep 17, 2013 11:11AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Val Since you have included in your quote "There are few ethnic or cultural links between the two and those that exist are from trading and immigration, not indigenous traditions." I would suggest that I am addressing your post head-on. There are many different cultures in the world. I don't think you should make sweeping generalisations about 'Africa and the Middle East' as if they were one culture when they are not. There are also individuals who do things which are abnormal within those cultures.


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