Comments: 7
How are you getting on with this? It's been sitting on my shelves ever since I read the Penguin "Writings of" compilation last year -- same thought, basically: "I think I need to read one *whole* piece by her; bits and pieces from all of her writings, sprinkled with liberal biographical and other commentary by the editors can only ever be a teaser."

That said, judging by the excerpts contained in "The Writings of", yeah, her attitude towards the Arabs is definitely a bit unclear. Lots of respect (particularly for the individuals with whom she personally came into contact), and she did seem to truly care about enabling Arab women to create some sort of agency for themselves, but definitely condescending, too, particularly when speaking in / about the collective abstract.
BrokenTune 2 years ago
If I remember correctly, Bell (in her own introduction to this book) refers to "the Arabs" as "children" or "childlike" or some such, which put me on the wrong foot from the start. Then the next 50 pages was just lists of pointless (to me) detail with not much in the way of rhyme or reason.
I still don't really know why she took the trip in the first place, where she is going, and what her underlying goals are here.
I'm struggling a little with this book. If it had not been for the last 20 pages, I probably would have cut my losses and swapped this one for Stark's Valley of the Assassins.
At least, I already know that I can "unshelf" this one and put a better book in its place.

I get that Bell was a remarkable person - and some scenes she describes in much humility attest to that - but I think I'll get far more out of a nf biography about her than from her own writing, which is a shame.
BrokenTune 2 years ago
Oh, and I am also irked by the condescending generalisations.

It's the same thing that annoyed me in Out of Africa - Blixen too used condescension when generalising about Africans even tho her attitude seemed to change a little when speaking about people she knew personally.
I actually found Blixen a good deal more condescending than Bell (at least based on the excerpts of the latter I read -- which is exactly why I wanted to try a whole book by her; exerpts are hand-picked and thus potentially skewed by nature). Hmm. Now I also want to read -- by comparison, if for no other reason -- a first-person account of Bell's mountaineering experience ...
BrokenTune 2 years ago
Oh, Blixen definitely was worse, but it seems to be the same kind of approach.
Colonial upper crust -- and just possibly, also an extra dose of pride for holding their own as women in a society that was, after all, not exactly supportive of the strong women it had produced itself?
BrokenTune 2 years ago
I'd say so.