It’s never just one thing

By now Amazon’s Kindle Direct bookshelf actually lists my latest e-book as “live”, but it still doesn’t exist in the store. Apparently, Amazon is tinkering with the publishing platform, because a lot of people are reporting problems. For a while, my bookshelf vanished altogether.

So the new book announcement is postponed for yet another day. But in the meantime, Elizabeth Bear has a great post about exclusion, exceptionalism and how the majority culture others writers (and anybody really) who deviates in one or more points from the norm of the straight, white, cisgendered man.

Kind of stunning how many people don’t know that Alexandre Dumas pere was also black, but then it’s not exactly a much publicized fact. I didn’t know for many years either, even though I had actually seen a photo of him, because my Mom had a book named Famous Heads of World History, which I loved to look at as a young girl. But then, Alexandre Dumas pere was considered mainly a hack when I was a teen, while his son was considered the really important writer. I had a memorable argument with my 10th grade German teacher that “All for one and one for all” was not a fascist slogan, because it was from the Three Musketeers. I wish I’d know Dumas was black back then, because that would have deflated the teacher’s argument real quickly.

This reminds of the “American short fiction” class I took in my second semester at university. We had to buy two anthologies for that class, Great American Short Stories, which contained a lot of white men and one token white woman (Katherine Anne Porter, who is not the first choice that would come to mind), and Great African American Short Stories, which included a lot of black men and a token black woman (Alice Walker). Even as a nineteen-year-old, ghettoizing the black writers in a separate anthology seriously rubbed me the wrong way. Nowadays, I applaud the professor for at least making an effort to include writers that were not white men, though the class could have included more women. And the anthologies were probably the best he had to work with at the time.

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2 Responses to It’s never just one thing

  1. Aw, why does Dumas get such a bad rap? He’s still considered “lesser” literature these days. There’s an extremely condescending back cover note that says something to the effect of “he was good but not great” on the Barnes and Noble edition of his book. Shame, really – I think Dumas was fantastic.

    Didn’t know he was black, though! That’s certainly interesting, although it really doesn’t affect the fact that he was a prolific and fantastic writer, at least for me.

    • Cora says:

      I’ve never understood the problems with the elder Dumas either. Okay, so he wrote entertainment, but then so did Dickens and Shakespeare and no one is holding it against them. I’ve never understood why the younger Dumas was considered the more respectable writer either, never mind that he is famous for only one novel, The Lady of the Camelias, which is a sort of 19th century equivalent of Love Story, i.e. not particularly respectable.

      Though the anti-Dumas-pere prejudice has faded somewhat. When I was a teenager, Dumas the elder was still a writer of potboilers of questionable ideology. By the time, I wrote my MA thesis, no one minded me rambling on for half a chapter about the parallels between The Count of Monte Christo and Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination. Or maybe they were too stunned by having to deal with Bester that Dumas was actually respectable by comparison.

      And yes, Dumas was black. I have no idea why this isn’t known more widely, .

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