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message 1: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1552 comments This thread was prompted by the fact that one of my Goodreads friends is currently reading some of the Modesty Blaise series. I've only read one of the short stories (decades ago), so my literary acquaintance with the character is modest; but since one reviewer has described her (though with a bit of exaggeration) as "the world's first action heroine," I thought she might deserve a thread here.

Modesty was the creation of British writer Peter O'Donnell, and first appeared as a comic-strip character in 1963. O'Donnell eventually started writing text-only stories about her, eventually producing 11 novels and two story collections. Born just before World War II, she was orphaned early and grew up as pretty much a feral child in a war-torn and hostile environment, where she picked up very good combat skills and a tough, pragmatic outlook; but she's also a basically decent and honorable person (not always 100% rule-abiding, but honorable). She built up a Tangier-based crime network (NOT dealing in drugs or prostitution, though) by her early 20s, but eventually retired from crime, settled in England, and often finds herself called on to rescue the innocent, help out British Intelligence, and generally make life hard for bad guys (and gals). Most of this information comes from a fan-created website I stumbled on a few years ago, which will tell you everything you'd want to know about the character and the author; the URL is: http://www8.cs.umu.se/~kenth/modesty.... .

How much literary quality there is to the Modesty canon, I can't say (I liked the story I read, but don't recall the title); but I'm curious enough to have the first novel on my to-read shelf (and our group to-read shelf). Has anybody else read any of these books? If so, what did you think?


Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 326 comments I (as you know, we talked about it) wasn't that taken by Modesty Blaise. She is probably the closest we have to a female spy/fi type heroine lead. I'm still looking for someone who will fill that niche.


message 3: by Marc (new)

Marc (authorguy) | 66 comments Mike (the Paladin) wrote: "I (as you know, we talked about it) wasn't that taken by Modesty Blaise. She is probably the closest we have to a female spy/fi type heroine lead. I'm still looking for someone who will fill that n..."

Kieryn Nicholas wrote the novel Rain about a 15 year old girl who was raised in a spy academy. She knows everything there is to know about being a spy, but nothing about being a 15 year old girl.


Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 326 comments I looked at it and thought the premise sounded a bit strained...it's like that movie with the Govenator (Last Action Movie) where the kid in the movie within the movie points out that there's no way that a "kid" would actually be allowed to be a cops partner. A 15 year old spy strained even my credulity. I may try it later... I'll check out a few reviews.


message 5: by Mark (new)

Mark Cooper | 18 comments I can also recall "The Baroness" series as well - abit like Modesty Blaise but with far more sex - by Peter Kenyon. I actually tried to write some Baroness fan fiction a few years ago and just got completely bored by it after the second installment. I might see if it still has any merit for adaptation into another idea.

I do recall the final Modesty Blaise story causing some controvesy - O'Donnell was contractually required to write one more book so he did abit of an about face and portrayed Modesty and Willie as being alive and active sometime in the future (by his standards) and not having aged significantly. Now, I'm all for a sliding timeline - after all Marvel and DC have been getting away with that for years - but that just takes the biscuit...ha ha ha.


message 6: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1552 comments I think there are actually several long-standing series where the main characters don't age as much in the books as they would have in real time. Especially with characters in action roles, writers (and readers) want them to be young enough to credibly handle physical challenges --although in real life, older people who've kept themselves in good shape can often handle physical challenges quite well!


message 7: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) Werner wrote: "I think there are actually several long-standing series where the main characters don't age as much in the books as they would have in real time. Especially with characters in action roles, writer..."

James Bond & Matt Helm both started off in WWII. Bond never aged as much as Helm, but both quit mentioning about the war & became ageless - Bond in the 60's, I think. Helm might have made it into the early 80's, but more likely the late 70's.


Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 326 comments Heck, look at Captain America and Superman, they both look real good.

Then there's Dick Clark...


message 9: by Mark (new)

Mark Cooper | 18 comments I think my comment might not have been all that clear. O'Donnell deliberately wrote the final book in such a way that he hoped it would never actually get published, whilst at the same time he'd completed his contractual responsibility. The book was published anyway and ran into a fair amount of criticism as all the other works had been fairly down to earth and in this one he actually states that Modesty and Willie hadn't aged, which was contrary to his earlier books.

As I said I'm all for a sliding timeline - it's the only way that literary characters survive unless your goal is to age them "realistically". A classic example is in the Marvel Universe with the Black Widow - in the mainstream 616 universe the Cold War has always ended "just a few years ago", hence her ability to work freely as a member of the Avengers.

Alternatively you'd just be rebooting your books every decade...which DC have just done to great effect.

It's interesting that Mike mentioned Captain America; in the series House of M he never ends up being frozen during WWII so in the alternative timeline he's now 80 yrs old and the characters decide to let him remain oblivious to the true nature of the timeline they're in. It's a nice touch that deals with the whole concept of his "man out of time" storyline. Man I'm getting geeky now...


message 10: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1552 comments Mark, out of curiosity, what's the name of that final Modesty Blaise book by O'Donnell? It seems a shame that he didn't respect the literary integrity of his own series. :-( I know that, in the last Modesty short story anthology, he included a story --though I haven't read it-- where she goes on a final mission in her mid-50s, after being diagnosed with a terminal illness, and lays down her life rescuing a number of innocent people (Willie is killed along with her). That seems like it would have been a more realistic and fitting coda to the series, IMO.


message 11: by Mark (new)

Mark Cooper | 18 comments Yes - that's the last short story in The Cobra Trap from what I remember (it was the 80s - I was young!). I believe the story was called something along the lines of The Dark Angels and it was only ever published in France; although there could have been an english-language translation for the comic strips at some point, I'm not sure.

Alot of the comics were based on his short stories - I know that DC produced a graphic novel of Modesty Blaise based on them and there's a Belgian comic book company that produce thinly veiled rip offs of MB books under the title of "Lady Stephanie".

Weird fact: Modesty Blaise belonged to the same comic book publishing house as both James Bond and Judge Dredd!


message 12: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1552 comments I recently tracked down the name of that Modesty Blaise short story I mentioned above that I'd read ages ago! It's "A Better Day to Die," one of the tales included in O'Donnell's collection Pieces of Modesty. (I've also read the first chapter of Last Day in Limbo years ago, but never got to read the rest --long story! I'd forgotten that title, too, and only tracked it down recently.)


message 13: by David (new)

David | 7 comments I have Last Day in Limbo in hardback. It's an ex-library copy I got off of Bookmooch. I discovered Modesty when I bought some of the old paperbacks at the Globe Cafe & Bookstore in Prague. I sold 'em back 'cuz I needed the credit to buy more books (I was pretty damn broke). I kind of regret that though...
You know O'Donnell's collected strips have been reprinted. The local library has a bunch & I've read quite a few. Much more upbeat than the novels, if that makes sense.


message 14: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1552 comments No, David, I didn't know the original comic strips had been reprinted! Back when I was a kid and reading comics, I never heard of Modesty; but I'd be curious enough to read these now, just to explore the origins of the character.


Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 326 comments Modesty was a newspaper comic like Flash Gordan and the Phantom right David? I think I remember reading it for a while...but I wouldn't swear to it.


message 16: by Mervi (new)

Mervi | 131 comments I'm a long time Modesty Blaise fan. Her comic strips were published in the local newspaper and I still have a collection of them. I used to cut them out and reread so that I could follow the plot. I also have three graphic novels which have collected her stories.


message 17: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1552 comments We start our group common read of Modesty Blaise today! I thought it would be best to carry on our discussion of the book on this same thread, so we can have the benefit of the earlier comments and links. So, I've just moved this thread to the common reads folder. Looking forward to an involving discussion, from anyone who wants to join in!


Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 326 comments I read it some years ago... I'll have to refresh my memory about it, only slight recollection.


message 19: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1552 comments So far, I've just started Chapter 5. I'd say that O'Donnell handles the introduction of Modesty as a character in Chapter 1 very well; since we see her through Sir Gerald's eyes, the author subtly guides us to perceive her the way Sir Gerald does, picking up the same qualities and impressions. She comes across very quickly as a strong, intriguing character, with a personality and background that's unusual --and which would have struck a reader in 1965 as even more unusual, since it was groundbreaking at the time for a woman in a book (as opposed to a comic or a pulp magazine) to function in this kind of role. (Of course, Modesty started her literary life in a comic strip; but the author and the character were capable of successfully making the transition, which demanded some special qualities in both.)

One small quibble that could fairly be made is that O"Donnell (and some other writers) misuse the term "automatic" when talking about guns which are obviously semi-automatics. The MAB Brevette, for instance, is clearly the latter. (An automatic, in guns, is another word for machine gun.) But that's not a major fault, IMO; a reader can still interpret what he means despite the error.


Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 326 comments I know. I get annoyed about that, about writers who call a magazine a clip or a semi auto a revolver... I get what you're saying.


message 21: by Thad (new)

Thad Brown | 84 comments I have to sheepishly admit that I'm one of the writers who's been guilty of calling a magazine a "clip," in one of the stories in my collection; and I made an even worse blooper in another story, where I had a character using a silencer --or "suppressor," to use the more technically accurate term-- on a revolver (it wouldn't work with that type of gun). Not being familiar with firearms myself, I honestly didn't know any better at the time, and my two beta readers didn't catch the gaffes either. (Though one did pick up on the fact that "cordite" is no longer used in ammunition; so that reference thankfully never saw the light of day in the final version!) All I can do is bow my head in shame, and point to myself as a negative example of the need for research when you write about subjects you don't know firsthand.

There's a book out by Benjamin Sobieck (who's a member of this group), The Writer's Guide to Weapons: A Practical Reference for Using Firearms and Knives in Fiction, that I think would probably be an excellent resource for writers who want to avoid mistakes like this. Unfortunately, it wasn't published until last year!


message 22: by Mike (the Paladin) (last edited May 05, 2016 06:29PM) (new)

Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 326 comments Suppressors can work on revolvers just not as effective because of the gas leak around the cylinder. Also you need to use low velocity rounds...

The clip thing doesn't bother some anymore, as it's almost ubiquitous. That said when I was in the army you didn't call for a "clip". The last weapon in the military that used a clip was the M1 Garand.

The cordite smell thing doesn't bother me as much as I get that it's so evocative.

You point something out (inadvertently sort of). Many readers aren't that weapon savvy so the things we're talking about won't bother some readers. It's probably more important for those who write action and military fiction (I'm only discussing fiction here as I'd assume nonfiction would have fewer slips).

Bottom line, it won't keep me from reading a book unless it gets so bad as to drive me crazy.


message 23: by Thad (new)

Thad Brown | 84 comments That makes sense, Mike!


message 24: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1552 comments A movie entitled Modesty Blaise aired in theaters in 1966. Although I've never seen it myself, I knew that the general consensus of fans is that it doesn't follow any of the books, and that the title character bears very little resemblance to O'Donnell's Modesty --she's just depicted as essentially a female James Bond. When I checked out the imdb description (www.imdb.com/title/tt0060708 ) just now, though, I learned more about the relationship of movie and book(s).

Modesty started her literary existence, in the early 60s, as a comic strip character --but, like Flash Gordon or the Phantom, in an action-adventure series that wasn't comedic as such, and wasn't aimed at little kids. 20th Century-Fox got the idea of making it into a movie, and originally hired her creator, Peter O'Donnell, to do the screenplay. He wrote a serious one, with a seriously developed character. The producers, however, decided they wanted to do a tongue-in-cheek parody of the Bond movies instead; so they hired one Evan Jones to re-write the screenplay, and in the end he used only one sentence of O'Donnell's version. However, they commissioned O'Donnell to do the novelization. He did --but he used HIS screenplay as the basis, not Jones,' nor the film itself. That book, published in 1965 (a year before the movie actually hit the screens) became the Modesty Blaise we know, and that I'm reading. It sparked the whole series of sequels, and turned O"Donnell into a novelist rather than a cartoonist.


message 25: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1552 comments By now, I'm well into Chapter 9. Here, I'm just tossing out a few random comments and reactions as they occur.

Others have probably also noticed that O'Donnell tends to be a very descriptive writer; he provides a good deal of detail (more than some readers care for, though I don't mind it), about how the characters are dressed, the physical appointments of the rooms where events take place, etc. I'm inclined to think this might be related to the fact that he began his storytelling career in the cartoon medium, as a visual artist bringing Modesty and her world to life in drawings. It probably came naturally to him to visualize scenes in very concrete terms, and to help readers to do so too.

In a situation where Modesty needs to be in charge and give orders, a male character interprets a visceral discomfort with taking orders from a woman as "atavistic," a seemingly instinctive response of his "male ego." Yet Willie Garvin is as fully male, and feels no such difficulty. And we know of real-life situations where many males have had no problem with taking orders from ruling queens, etc. That makes me believe that male problems with female authority are much more learned and cultural than instinctive, though I don't know if O'Donnell himself necessarily intended that message.

Related to this, one aspect of O'Donnell's portrayal of Modesty that comes through strongly to me is that she's a born leader. (That's not always an aspect of an action heroine persona; David Weber's Honor Harrington also displays it, but many other heroines are "lone gunwoman/swordswoman" types who don't particularly exhibit leadership qualities, and probably wouldn't be comfortable in the role.) It's not simply that she's smart and decisive; she also seems to have the knack of earning subordinate's confidence and loyalty, and letting them know she cares about them personally. That's a distinct difference between her and Gabriel, who clearly controls his subordinates solely through fear (and greed).


message 26: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1552 comments Has anyone else started on this book yet?


message 27: by Werner (last edited May 11, 2016 05:15PM) (new)

Werner | 1552 comments In one of my comments above, I made the statement that the publication of this book "turned O'Donnell into a novelist rather than a cartoonist." Actually, I've just discovered, from browsing his author page here, that this statement isn't precisely true; I should have said "as well as," not "rather than." O'Donnell continued to produce the Modesty Blaise comic strips from 1963 until 2001; and they all tell different stories from the ones in the novels and short stories. Titan Publishing is currently re-issuing the strips in a series of graphic novel collections; which I'm thinking would be well worth reading!


message 28: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1552 comments I'm piping up again, because I've just discovered another interesting (to me, at least!) datum of information. It turns out that Peter O'Donnell was NOT the artist for the Modesty Blaise comic strips. He was responsible for the story lines/printed material. The actual drawings (at least in the earliest strips, from the early 60s) were made by an artist named Jim Holdaway.


message 29: by Mervi (new)

Mervi | 131 comments Indeed, O'Donnell didn't do the art for the strips. The strips had one artist at the time and Holdaway was the first. After his death, Enrique Romero (my favorite) took over. The others were (IIRC) John Burns, Pat Wright, and Neville Colvin.

I read this book about a year and a half ago. I think it was very well written for a first novel, but of course he had written other comics before starting on the Modesty strips. This first Modesty book is one of my favorites and I've read about half of them (6). However, I've read the translations so I don't know if the English writing style is unpolished.

I really liked the start of the book with Sir Tarrant appearing and deciding not to blackmail Modesty. The series has several quirky recurring characters and Sir Tarrant is an excellent example of them.

Werner, you make an excellent point that Modesty is a leader. In several strips, she has to inspire or lead others and she's often challenged by at least one male character whom she beats (often literally). But once she has proven her skills, men follow her pretty much blindly. Her former underlings in the Network also respect her still.

While the books have some troubling aspects I really don't like, Modesty as a leader is an aspect I really like.


message 30: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1552 comments Mervi, as a native English language speaker/reader, I wouldn't say that O'Donnell's writing style is unpolished. I would call it direct and straightforward, workmanlike and serviceable, not calling attention to itself with any particular stylistic flourishes. He doesn't go in for ornate "purple prose," and the descriptions are clear and detailed without being lush.

Yes, I like Sir Gerald Tarrant, too. O'Donnell is quite adept in bringing his characters to life in a very rounded and realistic way --not just Modesty and Willie, but the secondary ones as well.

Mervi wrote: "...the books have some troubling aspects I really don't like...." Mervi, could you elaborate on those aspects? (You can use spoiler tags if you need to, which will mask that part of your comment unless a reader deliberately clicks on it --click on the "some html is ok" link above the comment box if you need instructions on how to do that..)


message 31: by Mervi (new)

Mervi | 131 comments Werner, the books have sexism but the most troubling to me is the way that O'Donnell deals with rape. IIRC, the first book doesn't deal with it and the comics strips of course couldn't, but in many if not all of the other books (view spoiler) Female characters are also often threatened with rape.

Another troubling aspect is that supposidly sympathetic male characters resent Modesty when she saves them from a violent situation. As you mentioned above, this is worded so that it's somehow natural even though others, like Willie, don't feel so.

I also don't like that Modesty is called "a girl" since she's a grown woman. (But I have this problem with many older books e.g. Fritz Leiber or Burroughs.) And not being male, I don't really care for the "male gaze" part, either. But that's pretty minimal, compered to some other older books.

That's a lot of downsides... but I really do like these books a lot. :)


message 32: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1552 comments Mervi wrote: "I also don't like that Modesty is called 'a girl' since she's a grown woman." Mervi, this may (or may not) be an irritant that's attributable to translation. The most basic and original meaning of the English word "girl" is "female child," and I assume it's translated with a Finnish equivalent in your copy. Since Modesty is a grown woman, it's natural to assume that this term is used to imply, in an insulting or patronizing way, that she's immature and childish (especially since the male equivalent, "boy," wouldn't be used of a grown man).

In the 19th and 20th centuries, though (at least in American usage) the word "girl" underwent some evolution in its connotative, and even lexical, meaning. All three English dictionaries I have here in my home give "young woman" as a second meaning for the word (and in the contexts where O'Donnell uses it here, it should be translated accordingly). The newest and most detailed dictionary of the three (Webster's New World Dictionary Of American English) specifies a "young, unmarried woman" (which, of course, Modesty is), and doesn't suggest that there's any invidious connotation in the usage. It goes on to note that when the word is used for "a female servant or other employee" (as my wife was referred to as a "hired girl," back in her teens, when she worked as a house servant for an elderly farm couple), or used colloquially to refer broadly to a "woman of any age, married or single," it's "sometimes [but not necessarily] considered a patronizing term." Neither of those are the usage here, though.

In current American usage, even married women or women past 30 or 40 may apply the term to themselves, or address each other as "girl;" and the word is used in stock phrases like "girl power" or "girl's night out." The usage is intended to suggest youthfulness (which most American women consider a positive quality, and find complimentary if it's applied to them), but without any implication of immaturity. "Girls with guns" (or swords) is a common genre designation for action heroine fiction or drama; I've mentioned on other threads here that I sometimes contribute book reviews to a site called Girls With Guns, and moderate another Goodreads group called Girls and Guns (though I'm not the founding moderator, and didn't name it!). There's no disrespectful intent in either name. And it's fairly clear, from the way O'Donnell portrays Modesty, that he doesn't view her as childish or immature. (Of course, I'm not a woman, so maybe my perceptions where the word is concerned aren't the same as a woman's would be. I'd be interested to hear from some of our other female members on this point, especially those who use English as a first language.)

Like you, though, I would also be very troubled by the prevalence of instances of rape in the series (which I wasn't aware of until you pointed it out). I don't think that O'Donnell held a pro-rape attitude in any way; that element in the books is probably intended as a realistic reflection of the fact that many males of the morally bankrupt sort that Modesty has to deal with have a rapist mentality, and I'm guessing that he took satisfaction (and wants the readers to) in seeing these people get the punishment they deserve. But for me, repeated exposure to this theme would still be hard to take, if it goes beyond just depicting the existence of a rapist mentality to recurrent instances of actual rape, especially if they're directly described. (The revulsion factor would be extremely high!)


message 33: by Mervi (new)

Mervi | 131 comments Werner, you make a very good point about the English term "girl". Thanks for your explanation! Of course, O'Donnell wrote this book in 1965 and he was British. What was the usage then?

"that element in the books is probably intended as a realistic reflection of the fact that many males of the morally bankrupt sort that Modesty has to deal with have a rapist mentality"

I agree, but rape is still part of the plots in the books, unlike in the comics, which surprised me.
Thankfully, O'Donnell doesn't much describe the rapes, usually just mentions them, (view spoiler) In fact, he describes the fights much more.


message 34: by Werner (last edited May 14, 2016 06:03AM) (new)

Werner | 1552 comments Mervi wrote: "Werner, you make a very good point about the English term "girl". Thanks for your explanation! Of course, O'Donnell wrote this book in 1965 and he was British. What was the usage then?

Good question, Mervi! I turned 13 in 1965, so I wasn't necessarily at an age where I did fine-tuned linguistic observation; but to the best of my recollection of how I and others talked then, and from what I've read of usage at the time, in American English at least, I'd say the meaning then would have been about the same. (One of the dictionaries that give "young woman" as a meaning was published in 1947, though the other two are from this century.) Of course, there might have been nuances in British English that I'm not aware of.


message 35: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1552 comments In line with some of the comments above, at one point in this book O'Donnell has a character "put on the safety-catch" of a Colt Python revolver. That's another blooper; revolvers don't have (and, I'm told, don't need) safety catches.


message 36: by R. (new)

R. Billing (r_billing) | 38 comments Werner wrote: "Mervi wrote: "Werner, you make a very good point about the English term "girl". Thanks for your explanation! Of course, O'Donnell wrote this book in 1965 and he was British. What was the usage then..."

I was 10 back then and would agree. I think it may go back to at least WW2 usage.


message 37: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1552 comments This book was a fairly quick read for me; I finished it yesterday. My five-star review is here, if anyone's interested: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1164792954 .


message 38: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1552 comments Although it took me about 15 days to read this book, I only get to read to myself for about a half hour each day. If you can put in more reading time than that, this could be a much quicker read. So if you're reluctant to start the book because you think you wouldn't finish it in the rest of this month, I believe you actually would probably have enough time to finish it. (And if not, this thread will stay open even after the end of this month!)


message 39: by Werner (last edited Jun 15, 2017 10:43AM) (new)

Werner | 1552 comments As a rule, the greatest literature in the Western tradition, IMO (at least as far as the fictional form is concerned) challenges its protagonists with a moral choice or dilemma which they have to grow by resolving. As a result, these protagonists are dynamic (that is, changing), rather than static, characters. It would be fair to admit, I think, that this isn't the case here; both Modesty and Willie are static characters. Their experiences in the book don't present them with anything that they recognize as a significant moral choice; they respond to situations here the way they always have, without any great reflection being required.

That said, is the book necessarily lacking in significant moral content? I would say no, because although the characters are static, the protagonists and antagonists have already staked out opposite and conflicting moral visions in the kinds of people they've chosen to become and be; this boils down to a basic conflict between essential good and essential evil, between an approach to life that cares about other human beings besides oneself and an approach that patently doesn't. And the reader is drawn in and invited to take sides with the former.

In a related point, it's obvious that Modesty (and Willie, for that matter, though our group focuses on the female side) has genuinely heroic qualities, and that Gabriel and his cohorts are villains. A fellow Goodreader (not in this group) has commented elsewhere that "heroes and villains exist only in books." If that's true, of course, real-life humans never display outstandingly good or bad traits, and all merge together in a relatively undifferentiated average with no significant individual moral differences. (The person who made the comment might make the usual exception for Hitler, but as usual he'd be seen as absolutely unique --as one of my more cynical college classmates once said, it's hard to imagine how people before his time ever did moral discourse without him.) In that view, books like this that present a moral contrast and conflict between characters are presenting a false, fairy-tale world completely divorced from reality.

For my part, I disagree completely with that view. To be sure, all humans have flaws (as Modesty and Willie do, for instance); none are unqualifiedly angelic, and few are devoid of some degree of good qualities. But experience and observation tell us that humans actually do vary greatly in the degrees to which they cultivate and embrace good or bad qualities; that some real-life humans do stand out from the crowd in their willingness to risk life and limb for others, or for principle; and that some individuals actually are sociopaths who have no empathy and no sense of moral restraint. A literature that recognizes this, and that more positively portrays the embrace of good rather than evil, I submit, is actually more realistic than one which refuses to. What do the rest of you think about this?


message 40: by Mervi (new)

Mervi | 131 comments I agree with you, Werner, on both Modesty&Willie and on real humans.

(Sadly, Hitler wasn't a unique evil. History records several similar people in power: Ceausescu, Stalin, Ivan the Terrible, Caligula etc.)

I also think that Modesty & Willie are static characters: while the people around them change, they don't. But also they don't give up even though they see a lot of evil and violence around them and become bad people or indifferent ones. Modesty even rescues animals in the comics now and then.


message 41: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1552 comments Good points, Mervi! Yes, I agree that Hitler unfortunately wasn't unique. My comment just expressed my frustration with the penchant in many American circles (where historical amnesia is the rule rather than the exception) to treat him as unique, so that the whole rest of the human race can be passed off as relatively nice and harmless --even though many people patently aren't, and historically haven't been.


message 42: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1552 comments Here's my review of the author's first collection of Modesty short stories, Pieces of Modesty by Peter O'Donnell Pieces of Modesty: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... .


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