Monday, June 11, 2018

A is for Appalling

Annamaria on Monday



The third in my Africa series,  The Blasphemers begins with the baptism of Vera and Tolliver's first child--Will.  In the upcoming fourth, A Death on the Lord's Day, Will is going on two years old and in the developing story, his mother wants to read him a book.  So I went searching for the kind of children's alphabet book that might have been available to Baby Tolliver at the time.  Google offered a number of American primers, but only one British one, published in 1899.  Fifteen years before my story, but close enough, I thought.  Click!

Was I ever wrong!  The pub date of the book might be about right.  But the jingoistic sentiments? Oh, my!  Here are the pages published for the children of the Empire.  















































Credit where credit is due:

The images come from the University of Florida Library and the George A. Smathers Libraries.

I found them on the Mashable/Retronaut website, which I discovered in the process of this research.  I will go back many times.  If images from the past entertain you or support your work, so should you!

14 comments:

  1. You can't make this stuff up! Imagine if you put it in the book... It's not that funny though. This was the sort of 'education' that led to the behaviour of that era.

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    1. J is for Jingoism for Juniors!!!

      You’ll be glad to know that Baby Will has a perfectly benign fictional book.

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  2. Heh. Time. What will folks think of the things we're doing today???

    Coincidentally, I'm working on a new game right now that involves puzzles that are made from old, out-of-copyright books (Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, Dickens, Mark Twain, etc). I felt the need to include this 'disclaimer' at the beginning of the game:

    WARNING: Most of the books included in this game are over 100 years old and, as such, contain some depictions of race, sex, violence and drug use that are no longer considered acceptable in modern culture. Reading is always a dangerous activity which can test your levels of tolerance, knowledge and understanding. This material should be read with the historical context firmly in mind, and don't allow a few objectionable paragraphs to cause you to throw out the baby with the bath water.

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    1. EvKa, In yours an my case, C is for coincidence. Imagine how many old books I have to read to write a plausible historical novel. I pick up those blessedly dated attitudes all the time. I find this sort of thing appalling, but also very helpful. Books of this sort tell me how some of the people thought at the time. Extremely useful when inventing characters. But not everyone thought this way. People with the attitudes of this primer wrote with complete distain of people like missionaries and liberals, called them bleeding hearts. So there were people with more "modern" attitudes then too.

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  3. Thank you for sharing this. It is good to be reminded of our "glorious" past, in order that we demand better of ourselves.

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  4. It's good that much of this has changed. But not S. That is the same

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  5. Dawne, thank you for your kind words. What I said above to Everett applies here too. Not everyone had such harsh attitudes a hundred years ago. These days open-mindedness is sometimes vilified as "political correctness, used as a pejorative. But the attitudes of this primer were the political correctness a hundred years ago.

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  6. Caro, Given my rejection of Mrs. Ames's world view, I also thought perhaps that S might be for snide, thinking of the current use of the phrase "not so hot." If she meant a double meaning, then I disagree with her even there! Scotland is chilly and damp and glorious.

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  7. I think you are missing a great opportunity by giving Will an innocuous book - not only are you ignoring history, but losing the opportunity for his parents to put the matter straight!

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  8. Ugh! I have no patience for this pro-colonial, pro-empire, racist view of the world. None.

    I could not read this stuff.

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  9. My first question would be how do people from formerly colonized countries feel about these definitions?

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  10. I think you have a terrific SNL skit in this. Imagine Alec Baldwin's career character reading this book to his daughter--either one will do.

    PS. For the uninitiated, SNL, means Saturday Night Live.

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