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  3. Racism in Sherlock Holmes?

User Info: Azalea9X

Azalea9X
6 years ago#1
I was inspired to read the books cause I really like the new Sherlock show on BBC. That being said, I can't get behind the books because of the inherent racism found in them.

This is the divide I find between modern detective stories and older detective stories. I am new to the genre but I have found that more of the older detective stories have racism in them. The newer ones seem to be more progressive and they seem to be about cases involving sexual inferiority or domination.

I find that in the Sign of Four- the book I stopped reading the Sherlock Holmes series- there were continuous references to Indians as savages, and, they continually downplayed Indians in their works (or I shall call Indians native Americans for PC purposes).

Is this kind of racism rampant within the Sherlock Holmes series? As much as I want to like those detective stories... I can't get myself behind it.
*is a fan of the Nats, Caps, and Wizards*

User Info: jwlim80

jwlim80
6 years ago#2
That is how it is with older literature as certain aspect of culture goes out of style in modern day. It's just not only Holmes there. Agatha
Christie is equally guilty with using the "N" word as the original title of one of her signature work.( Look up And Then There Were None on Wikipedia. It's there.)

All I can say is just keep an open mind as you read and remember that such behaviour is acceptable norms at the time of writing. Don't let them get to you.

User Info: GundamMonX

GundamMonX
6 years ago#3
You have that a lot in literature, pretty much up until the 1950's or 60's. The Holmes stories are very good; just keep in mind that because you are enjoying a story does not mean you are required to agree with what is said.

A book does not require the reader to make an "all-or-nothing" agreement with what is said. I can read works by Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and HP Lovecraft, and enjoy the stories, but still find whatever racist things in there as aberrations when I look at them through a modern lens.

Art is created as a reflection of society, not the other way around--so if anything, what's written in those stories is a sort of record as to how concepts of race were portrayed at the time. While racist/sexist/etc. portrayals may be uncomfortable to read now, it would probably be worse to ignore/edit/forget that those feelings did in fact exist at the time. History is often uncomfortable; but it has to be so that we can learn from it.
I respect your opinions, but only when they agree with mine--awesomephatman

User Info: jwlim80

jwlim80
6 years ago#4
Even in recent times, we have at least one example.

Michael Crichton's Rising Sun. Good techno crime thriller. But look at where the Japanese are now.

User Info: Bedman

Bedman
6 years ago#5
Yeah, pretty much, there was no perception that anything was wrong with it at the time. I personally try not to be shy about taking in literature of the sort. I'm secure enough in my own opinions. I'd rather face the matter and contemplate it than shirk any exposure to it. The knee-jerk reaction of people these days has gone from "Oh my gosh, this story is racist!" to "Oh my gosh, this story includes differences between people, therefore it's racist!" Holmes belongs more to the former, but I think we risk losing a lot by caving into the latter.

Also, just wait until you get to the story about Mormons. This big ****ing deal is made about this mysterious cult from Utah. Then at the very end, Holmes is like, "Watson, I do believe I've solved it -- they're called 'Mormons.'"

jwlim80 posted...
Even in recent times, we have at least one example.

Michael Crichton's Rising Sun. Good techno crime thriller. But look at where the Japanese are now.

I saw very little "racism" in that book, per se, and more just the explication of cultural differences, with especial attention given to the Japanese tenet that "business is war." It definitely delved into the topic directly, though, when Conner detailed his experiences as a gaijin living in Japan and how the Japanese ostracized him in the same way that blacks have been shunned in American society. Interesting take, how even if America has (very much in theory) overcome its racist tendencies, we should never assume the rest of the world has done the same.
Bedman: Mattress of the Universe

User Info: Lord Seth

Lord Seth
6 years ago#6
jwlim80 posted...
That is how it is with older literature as certain aspect of culture goes out of style in modern day. It's just not only Holmes there. Agatha
Christie is equally guilty with using the "N" word as the original title of one of her signature work.( Look up And Then There Were None on Wikipedia. It's there.)
The thing about And Then There Were None was that, according to my understanding, the N-word was at the time not seen or meant as offensive in England (though it did carry the offensive connotations in the United States). I can't really call this racism so much as just the changes in connotations a word can have when you go to different cultures and/or time periods.

It's kind of like saying that guys who made The Flintstones were really enlightened about LGBT issues because they put the words "have a gay old time" in the theme song. The word did not mean then what it does now.
"You've got it backwards, Harry. You are a soul. You have a body."
-Uriel, The Dresden Files: Ghost Story

User Info: jwlim80

jwlim80
6 years ago#7
Bedman posted...
I saw very little "racism" in that book, per se, and more just the explication of cultural differences, with especial attention given to the Japanese tenet that "business is war." It definitely delved into the topic directly, though, when Conner detailed his experiences as a gaijin living in Japan and how the Japanese ostracized him in the same way that blacks have been shunned in American society. Interesting take, how even if America has (very much in theory) overcome its racist tendencies, we should never assume the rest of the world has done the same.


Maybe so, but it still quite stereotypical of what the people will expect of Japanese here. Bowing, exchanging of name cards, etc. Not everyone of them do that, you know.

Then there's the fear mongering of the Japanese buying up everything, stealing technology, etc. Didn't happened.


Lord Seth posted...
The thing about And Then There Were None was that, according to my understanding, the N-word was at the time not seen or meant as offensive in England (though it did carry the offensive connotations in the United States). I can't really call this racism so much as just the changes in connotations a word can have when you go to different cultures and/or time periods.

It's kind of like saying that guys who made The Flintstones were really enlightened about LGBT issues because they put the words "have a gay old time" in the theme song. The word did not mean then what it does now.


Yes. I understand what you are getting at. But at this present moment in time, such words have the (dis)honour of carrying that certain stigma. Can't argue against the choir, you know.

In times perhaps, that stigma will perhaps wear off with another word shoulder the burden.

User Info: dextorboot

dextorboot
6 years ago#8
It's a product of its time, like all literature. I can only hope when we start uplifting animals they don't view Lassie, Mr Ed and Flicka as exploitive.

User Info: Gulcasa

Gulcasa
6 years ago#9
Maybe so, but it still quite stereotypical of what the people will expect of Japanese here. Bowing, exchanging of name cards, etc. Not everyone of them do that, you know.


Yo, I didn't read the book but I just want to point out that in Japan, bowing is kind of an extremely basic and important part of etiquette. You can't just not bow, unless you want everyone to think you're a disrespectful jerk. Please don't just say "not everyone does that!" The only reason you wouldn't be doing that in Japan is if you're everyone's superior or elder or something. And even then you'd probably do it.

As for the actual topic, I can't say I really understand why it bothers you. Even if everything actually means what it means today, in your country, can't you just shrug it off as the author's or character's perspective and read on? How are you going to handle reading any books about people who have different perspectives than you if you can't do that?

If you've read this much (I don't know, you make it sound like you just started but it also sounds like you've read more than just the first handful of stories he wrote), you should already be aware that not all of the stories have something like that in them, anyway. If this is really such a big issue, just skip a story if you encounter stuff like that in it. It's disappointing to do that, but if it's a problem then that's what you need to do.

User Info: Slamslate

Slamslate
6 years ago#10
Too Bad
"I've had my prices super low and it hasn't sold which is why I bumped up the price."-xxnike629xx
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