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In praise of the baddies
le 30 décembre 2013
I had read that book when I was 15 and had a dim memory of it. Then I happened to pick it up again a few days ago. Well ...
To-day's literature and cinema is essentially Manichaean: there are goodies, and there are baddies. The baddies are just bad, the goody-goodies are merciless in their self-righteous destruction of the baddies, the end makes us feel so good ... Here we have something quite different: it is the baddies who are supposed to retain the interest, even the sympathy, of the reader. The not-so-bad (and that is relative) are good-for-nothing bibulous weaklings. And what snobbery! Some characters are considered as belonging to the "gentry" - and that is petty gentry, they are not titled - but that allows them to heap scorn on the others, and the others to envy them. So, is that a true pîcture of the society of the time? I don't know that much about nineteenth-century England (I'm not English), so I cannot answer that.
But if I look around in to-day's world, even at very close range, I also find revenge, cruelty, self-inflicted misery, silly destructive conflict. Which makes me think that the book is not Gothic fiction but true realism.