Last week I introduced you to Thomas Horton and Eleanore King, each an author of a WW2 era book with diametrically opposing views regarding the character and comportment of women. Eleanore is superficial and self-absorbed, having the approximate IQ of the average houseplant. Thomas is vitriolic, arrogant and quite intelligent but thinks the world would be a much better place if all women -save prostitutes- would simply evaporate.
In What Men Don’t Like About Women, this is what Thomas had to say on the topic of women, reading and literary review:
Women flock to vague, unintelligible writings the way they flock to new, abstruse, fuzzy religions, and for the same basic reason. A woman feels most at home among, and hence can best discuss, things that make the least sense.
Since women generally read reviews of books rather than books, since they love the salacious so much and since the larger problems of living concern them so little, they are perforce the worst critics in creation. In the entire history of the world no woman has been a good literary critic, even in the privacy of her home. If she has ever uttered a single original thought, a brief investigation will reveal that she borrowed it from a man. If a woman says she likes a book, the chances are that all she means is that she saw a picture of the author and likes the shape of his mouth or the cut of his mustache…Women are especially deficient as critics of political and economic books, for they are by biology, training and instinct extremely conservative animals. They would rather let well enough alone. They seldom dream of Utopia. The only dream that really makes sense to them is that in which all men, writers, composers, politicians, gangsters, dictators and street cleaners adore them.
In Glorify Yourself, this is what Eleanore has to say on the topic of women, reading and literary review:
When a person asks, “Have you read The Storm?” don’t say the deadly “No.” Some people even feel called upon to apologize for not having time to read.
The second speaker may feels as strongly about the subject, yet she manages to avoid killing the conversation. Obviously, she reasons the first speaker is interested in this movie and at least, she can be congenial and get his views: “Did you see Of Human Bondage?” “Yes, I read the book also.” “So did I. Which did you like best?” “I believe I liked the book best, though they both made me realize how tragic certain experiences in life can be.” “Yes, and yet how often those same experiences strengthen us in the end.” Here is a conversation that can go on for hours, with both enjoying each other more as the minutes go by. Rehash some of your conversations and see if you are guilty of dashing cold water into the face of those who ask your opinion on books, plays or anything else.
Stay tuned for next week’s Thomas & Eleanore, pt.3