Sunday, September 18, 2016

A bit more about Shriver's talk

Further to the discussion about Lionel Shriver's talk in Brisbane about cultural appropriation, there is a "portrait" article in the Saturday Paper by Maxine Beneba Clarke that I think is really remarkable for the poor impression it leaves of her own judgement and behaviour - and it would appear she is completely unaware of this.   Seriously, an Australia Left aligned literary figure or ABC commentator who isn't completely devoid of common sense really needs to call her out.  (I'm thinking someone like Richard Fidler or Jennifer Byrne - or her Book Show regulars - could do this well.)  When will it happen?

From the other end of the literary/politico spectrum, Helen Dale has weighed in, which is unsurprising given that she's viewed herself as victim of Lefty literary types for decades.   Her Facebook comment, advising of a lengthier commentary to come, shows all the warning signs of why I think she is not particularly wise to step into the fray.  First, there is this:
I wrote an entire novel founded on cultural appropriation.
Well, yes:  can't deny that, I suppose.  But the on-going problem came from much more than mere literary cultural appropriation - it came from telling lies about her personal cultural background.  If her point had been that it was only published because she found no positive responses until she pretended it was not a case of so-called appropriation, then it could readily have been made in spectacular fashion if she had voluntarily disclosed this in one of the many post publication interviews/festival appearances.   (And do remember - the criticism of the content of the novel at the time came from both Left and Right.)

Secondly, she has never been one to not blow her own trumpet, despite the fact that I don't think she has had anything she has been writing published since:  
Shriver is transparently a better writer than her critics. I was and am transparently a better writer than my critics. Such is life.
Edit suggestion:  "a transparently better writer than some of my critics" makes you sound less egocentric, and is very likely accurate too, given the breadth of criticism you faced.

But to be fair, the main problem here is one on the academic and literary Left, and I don't think they're responding well.

1 comment:

TimT said...

Maxine's article is certainly surprising. I guess it has the virtue of being honest - it's not an encounter one would normally want to record.