kingandy: (Uhhh...)
[personal profile] kingandy
I've been reading the "Biggles" books which sat on my Grandad's bookcase for longer than I've been alive. I always meant to read them, just to see, and now he's gone I thought, "what the hell, they're only going to be chucked if I don't grab them." So I did.

"Biggles in Australia" was fairly bad with the racism (not all aborigines were bad, though they were consistently described in animalistic terms), and "Biggles in the Gobi" was about the same (ascribing an uncontrollable love of explosives to the Chinese people).

No Rest for Biggles, however, makes for very uncomfortable reading. It's set in Liberia and seems to thoroughly disapprove of "blacks" running their own country. Biggles can't even accept for a moment that the nefarious plane-abducting plot could be concocted by anything other than a white man, or that the device being used could ever have been "the invention of a coloured man." (Of course Biggles is proved right in short order.)

These are 1956 editions, it's possible the versions on the shelves today would be somewhat sanitised. One would certainly hope so. Regardless, I think after this one I'm done with Biggles.

Date: 2011-08-17 04:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yup. In most old 'classics' you can find a wincingly awful dollop of racism on at least one or two pages. Once they set the story anywhere other than England or America, that rises to two or three incidences per page.
When my dad tried to introduce me to the Sci-Fi he had loved as a boy, we both had a sort of revelation about how racist and sexist they actually were and took them quietly off the bookshelves.
You could possibly sell them on ebay, since you aren't going to read them?
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