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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  February 13, 2011 3:00pm-4:00pm EST

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coming out with nothing in their hands. .. >> but looking for the dignity of the people coming out and trying to give that back to them.
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it's always taken without any consent. and i think that's one way we can honor the people whose lives who ended in such terrible what i see >> i endorse your words, every one of them. >> you said there are seven other identities. you knew of the boys? who are they? >> i will say two of them are english. one is australian. i know of two in israel. i'll tell you of just one of these cases, the earliest one that i'm aware of and it's quite a tragic story. most in the 1980s and from on but this one comes from the 1950s. the photo is published in an israeli newspaper and a father who lost both of his children in the ghetto sees the photo and he's convinced that this photo is a photo of his two children.
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and he has no photo compare it to. only 15 years later is he able to locate a photo and he comes to the reporter and says don't they look the same? and for him that photo is those two children and it identifies in the hands of the little girl the doll that he gave her for her birth day. and 15 years later, he still comes back with remorse because he believes his children survived until the revolt in april of '43 when he actually lost them in '42 and he's convicted he neglected them for eight months in the ghetto. i believe he saw his children but these were not factually his children. >> so you're saying basically all of the claims for being the
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boy are people who thought they knew the boy were genuine and honest? >> they were genuinely honest. there's no doubt about it. but the likelihood of this child surviving is less than i would say 2 or 3%. the number of juice in poland that were killed exceeds the 90% surely of those who were caught by the germans and a child of this age would have never survived. there is no chance in the world that he survived. and in each and every account of these 7 or 8 that i followed, there were occasions that it just does not fit. and frankly it's very important for me to say that this jewish boy is a symbol and icon but in no way do i believe that he's less or more important than the child on the left-hand side or
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of any child that's not photographed in this framework. it's something that arouses our curiosity but there were so many that were killed. and it's just impossible and the more important question for me at least was how this photograph come about. >> we have time for one more brief question. [inaudible] >> yes, i did speak with one doctor and heard his horrific story. unfortunately, he's not in good condition today. so it's -- one cannot communicate with him today. but -- okay. >> are you aware that one of the
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founders of the museum here -- [inaudible] >> was someone who was a child in the ghetto and i think managed to escape? >> oh, really? this photo basically represents for many of us and for me surely all those who perished. and it also for someone of my age represents the lost childhood and for survivors the lost childhood of their parents. this is the photo from their childhood that they do not have. that is a photo. [inaudible] >> correct. 75 reproductions of the little boy, yes. >> well, on that note we do need to end but we can continue the discussion with danny downstairs and they are not officially out
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in the bookstores. i want to thank the museum for holding such a wonderful event. i want to also think the federation for sponsoring this professorship as well as this talk and above ul, i want to thank dan porat. [applause] >> so we will be shepherding danny downstairs and he'll be happy continuing talking to you. >> this event was hosted by the illinois holocaust museum and education center in skoki illinois, for more information visit ialthough >> currently i'm the dean of academics of the army inspector general school who happens on the side to write books are world war ii. this is my second. and i mention this because my first one was on the battle of the bulge. it was called the key to the
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bulge and it came out in 1996 and i happened to research that one at the same time that i began research for this particular books and i sort of did them in pairel because i was conscious because i was dealing in these cases with very obscure events and did not have a lot of secondary source literature out there on them, that i actually had to make certain that i was able -- in a position to contact a lot of the veterans while they were still living, both jail term and american. my particular take on history, military history, specifically, from the world war ii period is sort of the human aspect of it. my background is in english literature so i'm not a trained historian. so i decided to go back to school to gain a ph.d. in history which is what i'm working on now. but i try to approach my -- really my attempts in my relaying of these battles in being able to teach future
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soldiers what it's like to be in combat. i am at this point in my life a combat veteran. but at the time i started researching these battles, i did know know and understand what it was to be a combat veteran and i wanted to take a lot of the lessons from our veterans at that time both american and german and to try to capture them inasmuch i could in the books that i wrote. so i use them very much an interdisciplinary approach to writing military history in this case with a lot of the social and cultural aspects in folks of all echelon of command, leaders to all levels to what happened to the individual soldiers and i particularly focused on battles or events that have great significance but have never been touched upon before. and so one of my -- one of my passions is to seek one of these out and once i do, to try to figure out what happened and why it was important. so too with this destruction of the six ss mountain division and you're trying to figure out a
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mountain vision and an ss division in particular, why should any us care what happened out of this one division out of many in the waning days of war in the european theater? >> why this subject? why write about jews and money? why write about an age-old stereotype well, because it persists. because it's there. because it's pernicious. because it's everywhere. and that's why we fight bigotry. that's why we fight prejudice. that's why we fight anti-semitisim. and every once in a while one has to focus on a specific aspect of the prejudice. this element, this stereotype goes back several thousand
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years. if you examine the roots of western anti-semitisim you will find that it is one of the two basic pillars of western anti-semitisim. the first being the charge that the jews not the romans killed jesus. that became a major legitimatizer that enabled the teaching the contempt. that was the basic foundation for so much of western anti-semitisim. it was the foundation of the inquisition. it was the foundation of expulsion.
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and it made it reasonable and national. well, the other pillar at that time was the pillar relating to who sold jesus out and why? and so the second pillar dealt with the issue of money, jews and money. jesus was not sold out by judas for ideology. we are told and taught sold him out for 30 pieces of silver. and so out there at least western civilization, the elements of anti-semitisim were rooted in both elements. and it grew. and it grew and became more and more legitimate. request canada canada sampler a
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them to charity. it's a great bargain and it's the best charity you could ever ask for. >> here's one recipe that you have for clove cake. theodore roosevelt. >> that's right. it's a healthy cake, let me tell you. it's heavy and it's great. it's delicious. >> what other recipes that you have in here that people might be interested in? >> i think it's mamie eisenhower fudge. when she married ike she told my husband she didn't even that know how to cook and boiled water and after she married him he was the chef. she ran across this million dollar fudge recipe it's so good and even kids can make it. it's fantastic and my second favorite is probably's ronald reagan pumpkin pecan pie because it's like pumpkin pie and it has all the pecans and all the nuts are on top. >> and you have a recipe here from harry reid.
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>> yes, i do. it's chicken breast and pap wreaka sauce and it's really good. you have every kind of political persuasion that you want. >> well, capitol hill cooks is the book. with the recipes from the current and past presidents. >> elaine showalter professor emeritus at princeton university. profiles female american writers up to today. describing the obstacles that female writers have had to face throughout history. this program is a little under an hour. >> back when i was a new ph.d. in 1970, i edit my first anthology -- i don't think barbara knows about this. this is it.
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this worn out little red cover book called women's liberation and literature and it was published by harcourt and brace. i got to do it. i was a new ph.d. i was in my first assistant professorship job. and i felt a tremendous sense of responsibility doing this book to my protected readers. when i did it, putting together the list of text that i wanted was really not very hard especially because in those days i didn't even know of that many. but i got a real shock when i sat down to write to copyright holders for permission to reprint the work. i wanted to include sylvia plath's celebrated poem "daddy." you probably all know that poem and i wanted to include two other poems by plath. i was really going for broke. but when i wrote to plath's
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executor and also the sister of her estranged husband ted hughes and who was rumored to be somewhat of a ferocious person, it was responded that to reprint "daddy" would cost me $100. now, i was paying for the permission fees out of the pittance that i got for doing the book and as a beginning assistant professor with two kids i had not very much had money of my own and they said the other two poems i had asked for was $50 each. [laughter] >> that was the beginning of my literary career. and i will tell you that i settled for a $50 poem. [laughter] >> i struck a bargain and i bought a poem called "les boss." it's a magnificent possess about enmity between women and it was
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cheaper than "daddy" and that was my introduction of the literary anthology is an idealistic young scholar it had never cured to me that poems could be rated by their ticket price as well as by their quality but that experience really changed my perceptions of literature forever. and from then on, i really understood, i think, that literature has always been a business. that poems, stories, essays and novels are products in a marketplace as well as acts of the creative imagination. and that professional writers depend on their market value as well as their critical reception. in this new collection i have two poems by sylvia plath and i have to tell you i still can't afford "daddy." [laughter] >> and you know, of course, those days $100, boy, that was an unbelievable bargain if it had been in stock now where "daddy" has escalated. so i still can't pay for it and
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i've chosen two of plath's other poems, very powerful poems written in the last few months before her suicide. and i realized that sometimes financial constraint forces to you look beyond the conventional and find something really wonderful. not all the time but in this case. so fast forward to the present. in 2003 i signed a contract knoff of a jury of her peers. and my editor suggested to me that it would be good to put together an anthrog to go with it and be printed in paper book. and it was an extremely welcomed shugs i know that many of the works i talk about for judiciary for peers are out of print and they are very hard to find and readers said where can i get ahold of these text? now that i'm interested in them i'm curious about them and where
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can i read it and i knew from the beginning it was a given i could not possibly include all the important work by american women writers since 1650 in a single volume -- that i knew from the start. on the other hand, before this, there has never been a single volume of anthology of women's women's writing which seemed to me a staggering omission in the 21st century and i knew that i wanted to make an anthology -- i wanted to put together a book that was portable. that was economic. that wasn't weighted down but all of the apparatus of the textbook, that brought together stories and poems and essays by american women writers, as many as possible. that would reflect their diversity of subject and style, works that were beautiful or tragic or funny or satearic or inspiring or all of the above and the anthology overall was
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intended to offer kind of a mini canon, a partial list, it couldn't be a full list but a partial list who i think are the most significant women writers in american literary tradition and to kind of provide a map in relation to each other and to american literature in general. so those are my aims. now all of us know, i think, that today the anthology is a genre very much dominated by a few large and wealthy publishers who can afford to hire the knowledgeable editors and researchers required to put a good book together. and who have the bottomless pockets to pay the staggering permission fees for reprinting work in copyright. most are the anthologies are aimed, of course, at the textbook market, mostly the college textbook market. they're multivolume works of
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over 5,000 pages. they have vast budgets. they have vast sales. they have something of a student captive market and we talk there's been quite a discussion recently about the price of textbooks for college and university students. and over the past 15 years, they have been getting bigger. they have been getting more elaborate. they have been getting more expensive. they are packaged now with maps, pictures, teaching manuals and in some cases, audio and video supplements so you are buying really an entire experience when you buy one of these anthologies. now, that's not what i was trying to do or what i have done. i want to put together a book for the general reader as well as the undergraduate and to do it without the norms committees and the consultations of the big text. so i started out by making a list of all the works i would like to include in a utopian publishing world and then with the help of a grant from the mellon foundation, i was able
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for a year to pay 3 graduate assistants, 2 from princeton and one from harvard to help me go through the libraries to see if there were works and writers i had overlooked. vintage has established a rough guideline -- i'm going to let you in on all of the -- whoops, there goes my earring. i was going to let you in on all of the statistics, financial statistics of putting anthology together. vintage has established a rough guideline of 800 pages. and they were willing to pay about $20,000 in permission fees which is probably about a tenth or less than what a big textbook publisher has available. this is a huge business, the textbook anthology market. now those who write permits, 20,000, copyright law is different in every country. the guidelines in the united states that i was given by my
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publisher were to get permission for everything published after 1922. they figured that would cover everything. canadian law is different and i had to get some canadian rights as well. british law is also very different but no british publisher was willing to put up the money to produce an anthology of american women writers and i think that's shame. so that gives you a bit of a background. however, even with my wall street even cynical view of the commercial and financial aspects of anthology publishing and with the encouragement and backup from my very patient and endlessly optimistic editor at vintage, i was really unprepared for the nightmare of getting permissions. i cut my list to 100 writers. and i had to write for permissions, copyright
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permissions, 48 of them whose work was still under copyright protection. i started a year before the publication date. and the year that followed a year ago, in other words, was an education for me in bureaucracy, greed, control freakry, inefficiency, outright lying and the blindless of copyright holders to the circumstances of readership in the 21st century. i thought, naively, that many executors and copyright holders would be happy to have some long-forgotten story or poem by a writer that nobody had talked about in 30 years, 40 years, 50 years. i would come and say i'm going to reprint this and it's going to be called the vintage book of women writers? isn't this wonderful? not a bit they did not find an opportunity to find a new opportunity for their writers. there were a tiny number of exceptions. in fact, there were two
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exceptions. [laughter] peter davis, whose wonderful book "mrs. flinders" was tammy to made his mother's work available and was exceptionally generous in its terms. copyright holders made it as hard as possible to analthoughize their work. printerairies lost their letters until prodded by their bosses or by the aggrieved authors when they were miraculously located the letters in a matter of minutes. at one press the permissions editor was quite annoyed with me for continuing to pester about a writer's work because she had many other responsibilities. true i'm sure 'cause we know that publishers like everybody -- every other business are being cut back. she had a lot of things to do. somebody has to handle the permissions, though. and i would think in these days
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permission fees could be centralized and standardized and handled online. they're not. on their websites, publishers say that they will respond to written or emailed query in two to six weeks and they warn you not to telephone them to follow up. in fact, several of the largest publishers took up to five months to reply to simple queries. in one case i never could get a reply from the copyright holder and just gave you and when you read a review, why isn't so-and-so isn't in the book, i want you to know why some of the reasons why writer x does not make it back in the books. in 1970 i thought $100 was too much for a poem. their price is set by the copyright holder. there is absolutely no standard, no convention. you charge what the market can bear. you charge what you think you
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can get away with. there is no correlation to length or even to the fame of the writer or the classic nature of a work. in other words, you might expect to pay a lot of money for a story that has been reprinted a classic story. you could be charged as much for a ten-line poem by a poet that nobody has ever heard of at all. and there seems to be no sense among expecters that there's a difference here or that there might be some type of discussion. do these people ever get together and talk to each other about what they are selling. so they ask for exorbitant sums for lesser works. radical authors, whether they were politically radical, left wing, or feminist or other were just as demanding and uncompromising as those with a much more commercial and mainstream bent. in fact, there's a scholar named carrie nelson who is a left wing academic editor himself and he's
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edit an anthology of modern american poetry and he has written trying to reprint work by radical writers is the real source of the expression of in the red. [laughter] now, carrie nelson who i know and whose experience with the permission process which he's described in a very funny article was very similar to mine. he actually enjoyed bargaining with publishers. he liked making them offers they could not refuse. his publisher oxford university press did all the correspondence in my case i did it myself. and carrie checked in at the end in a sort of good cop/bad cop routine threatening to drop the writers all together if the publishers do not come through and cut their fees. i did a little bit of bargaining. i don't enjoy it all that much but i did it. i, you know, womaned up and i did it but so many publishers took so long to reply that the book had actually gone to press before i even heard back from
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them. and two negotiations were concluded on the final day in the last possible minute before the book was set in print. even an important writer cannot always control copyright permission. i wanted to include and i did include joyce carol oates wonderful short story golden gulfs and i wanted to include it in part because it's a short story by a woman by a boxer. i wanted the anthology to include counterintuitive examples of women. women write about everything. they are not limited to feminine subjects and i wrote a way to find out who had the copyright and after many months of silence i appealed to joyce herself who is an old friend and a supporter of this anthology and of woman's writing in general. she was really very glad that i wanted to reprint this story. it has never been analthoughized before but it turns out the copyright by golden gloves was held by a former publisher.
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she had left many, many years ago and the rights had never reverted to her. she appealed to them to be merciful which is to say, you know, charge me a very low sum for this story but, of course, they didn't. they charged a whopping fee which we paid. and in many cases i've had this experience myself is an academic writer and so did my husband and a lot of people i know and a lot of literary writers themselves, the writers themselves never get paid on these copyright royal fees from the publisher. so this is -- there's kind of a limbo land not in every case but in some cases where these royalties go. who is in control? of these rights? to, you know, just the financial hassles, many of the agents, secretaries and other representatives of various writers insisted that they should look at my head notes to the selection of the writer. they wanted to critique it. they wanted to make sure that it
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was all okay. several of them wanted to know and they wanted xeroxed copies of the writer who would come before them and the writer who would come after them in the book. [laughter] >> the book is actually arranged bit writer's date of birth so i didn't have a lot of flexibility on that. there were writers and their agents who demanded revisions of my head note, who objected to critical statements that i made about them. in one case they complained that i had not given sufficient space and detail to the author's political causes and sent a long list of things they would like included. finally, i had to drop 20 of my original 100 writers because they were too expensive or too demanding or too controlling in their requests. and i think none of you will be surprised to hear that once i had agreed to the fee and signed the contract these same publishers and executors wasted no time at all in sending out
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their bills. that they were very speedy about. so putting together a literary anthology demands a lot of tough and painful literary decisions. i made a decision i would not include excerpts of novels after 1900. some of the novels published before 1900 they're very long. they're not that readable by modern authors and yet you want to have some sense of them represented but 20th century and after i didn't think it was appropriate but i did want to include some of our major women novelists. now, toni morrison to mention -- someone has said in the book, why isn't toni morrison isn't in the book? toni morrison has published one short story. it came out in 1983. if there's any anthology of american women writing will be in it because it is the short story by tone that -- toni
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morrison. it's long and it's very expensive as you can imagine. and i had to choose between including that and including maybe five other pieces by other women writers. marilyn robinson, another contemporary women novelist whom i admired tremendousless published only one short story in the paris review and she did not want to have it reprinted. i thought it was quite good but she didn't want it to come to light again. another of my favorite contemporary writers had stories very long and very expensive. and i certainly have been aware for a long time if you look at anthologies that deal with the contemporary period they will have a great deal of poetry in them. maybe one poem per poet that's because poetry is cheaper and you can get a lot more writers in if you just use a poem. it isn't always cheaper. but it is sometimes -- tends to
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be cheaper than fiction. i didn't want to go that route and i didn't want to have a lot of short fiction if i could. and i will mention because that i have been cut from an anthology myself as a critic. around 2000, the norton anthology of criticism and theory came out and the editors had to cut 300 pages at the last minute and the "new york times" wrote this up -- this is what happens when you're working with norton. "new york times" wrote it up and i think the publisher on the front page and they noted that along with several, elaine showalter had been dropped from the book. [laughter] >> one of my proudest moments. [laughter] >> although my princeton students reacted to this as if i had been hosed from an elite eating club. they were most distressed and thought it was a shameful
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experience. the art of anthology is like politics in washington. nonetheless, i'm really very with the way the book turned out and i'm excited to think that readers will be able to find astonishing work and those who i feel should be recognized as important figures in american literary history and i hope they will they will recognize the styles and genres that are characteristic in women's writing. the fabled or allegory, a form used by american women writers from the 18th century to the present including writers as diverse as katherine sedgwick, francis harper, edith wharton, alice, shirley jackson -- i could go on and on. and i want to conclude by reading one of these payables it's quite show. she unnames them.
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how many of you know this piece? yes, my daughter. [laughter] >> otherwise, this will be something new to you and i hope you'll like it. it's set in the garden of eden. it is told by a very rebellious eve. and it reflects -- it's very much of its time. it reflects the concern, the fascination of femalists in the 1980s with the escaping prosecute -- the idea that our language is a language invented by men and, therefore, it controls what we can express. and creating a new way of speaking and writing. so she unnames them. most of them accepted namelessness with the perfect indifference with which they had so long accepted and ignored their names. whales and dolphins, seals and sea otters consented with particular grace and alacrity,
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sliding into anonymity as into their element. a faction of yaks, however, protest it. they said yaks sounds right. and that almost everyone who knew they existed called them that. unlike the ubiquitous creatures such as rats and fleas who have been called by hundreds of thousands of different names since babel the yaks said they had a name. they discussed the matter all summer. the council of elderly females finally agreed that though the name might be useful to others, it was so redundant from a yak point of view that they never spoke with themselves and it might as well dissent with it. after they presented the argument, a full consensus was started only by the onset of severe early blizzards. soon after the beginning of the thaw, their agreement was reached and the designation yak was returned to the donor.
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among the domestic animals, few horses had cared what anybody called them, cattle, sheep, mules and goats along with chickens, geese and turkeys all agreed enthusiastically to give their names back to the people to whom as they put it they belonged. i assume they mean the names belong not the animals. a couple of problems did come up with pets. the cats, of course, steadfastly denied ever having had any name. [laughter] >> others in those self-given unspoken personal names which is the poet elliott said they spend long hours daily contemplating. it was with the dogs and with some parrots, lovebirds, ravens and minas that the trouble arose. these verbally talented individuals itsdz r-insisted their names were important to them and flatly refused to part with them and as soon as they understood the issue was part of
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individual choice and that anybody who wanted to be called rover or frufruor polly or even birdie was perfectly free to do so. not one of them had the least objection departing with the lower case or as regard to german creatures upper case, poodle, dog, or bird and all the qualifiers that had trailed along behind of them for 200 years like tin cans tied to the tails. the insects imparted with their names with swarms of ephemeral syllables buzzing and stinging and flitting and crawling and tunneling away. as to the fish of the sea, their names dispersed from them in silence throughout the oceans like faint dark blurs of cuddle fish inc and drifted without a trace. none were left now to unname. and yet how close i felt to
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them. when i saw one of them swim or fly or trod or crawl across my way or over my skin or stalk me in the night or go along beside me for a while in the day, they seemed far closer than when their names had stood between myself and them like a clear barrier. so close that my fear of them and their fear of me became one same fear. and the attraction that many of us felt, the desire to smell one another smells feel or rub or caes or skin or fur or taste another blood or keep another warm that attraction was now all one with the fear and the hunter could not be told from the hunted nor the eater from the food. this is more or less the affect i had been after. it was somewhat more powerful than i had anticipated but i could not now in all conscience make an exception for myself.
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so i resolutely put anxiety away, went to adam and said, you and your father lent me this. gave it to me, actually, it's been really useful but it doesn't exactly seem to fit very well lately but thanks very much. it's really been very useful. it's hard to give back gift without sounding peevish or ungrateful. he was not paying much attention as it happened and said only put it down over there, okay? and went on with what he was doing. one of my reasons doing what i did was talk was not getting us nowhere but i felt a little let down. i had been prepared to defend my decision and i thought perhaps when he did notice he might be upset and talk and i continued to do what he was doing and to take no notice of anything else and i said well, goodbye dear. i hope the garden turns up. he was sitting parts together
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and said without looking around, okay, dear, when's dinner? i'm not sure, i said. i'm going now. i hesitated and finally said, with them, you know. and went on out. i had only just then realized how hard it would have been to explain myself. i could not chatter away as i used to do. taking it all for granted. my words now must be as slow, as new, as single, as tentative as the steps i took going down the path away from the house between the dark branched tall dancers motionless against the winter shining. so i want to leave you with a question about this fable. does the speaker give back the name of eve or the name woman? and what difference would it make? if it was either one?
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and now if you all have any questions or comments, i'd be very happy to hear them. [applause] >> i have a question. >> uh-huh. >> the people who had the copyright, were they mostly men? >> no. no. there was absolutely -- as i said, you know, the most politically radical writers were just as bad as the other ones. the ones who are -- carrie nelson says this is all a product of late capitalism or whatever. but i mean, whether you were against late capitalism or not, when it came time to ask for your money, it didn't matter what your other beliefs were. you tried to get whatever you could. and a number of the people who work in publishing, a number of permission editors were women.
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it's something -- the presses have them and they don't pay them very well. they give them lots of other jobs to do and this kind of falls by the wayside and i'm not the only one who said this. anybody who's done an anthology like this will tell you what a nightmare it is to try to get these permissions. and it seems something the internet is made for. why can't these this be handled online? why can't it be standardized? why can't there be some kind of commission that gets together and settles on a fee and make it easy to get this -- to get this done. but it's very old-fashioned now. >> i want to start my whole teaching career over again. [laughter] >> i really think this is a wonderful book. second thing is, emily dickinson, i found it so galling to have to pay wealthy harvard university to print emily dickinson, anything of emily dixenson. i notice you have three. >> they're all out of copyright.
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now i mean, i think all of emily dickinson was wonderful and i thought it was three great poems but this is really what it comes down to. and i think it's fascinating because as a reader this is not what you think about. you don't realize -- i mean, when you're looking at a budget and you are faced with sending several thousand dollars these works and you get a chance for free or for less, this is when you have a to do. it is a fact to me a fascinating case study in this nexus of commerce and art, you know, or production and education, however you want to look at it. and these are hard decisions to make. but it's a system. and it's a system that's really become entrenched. >> you don't get the latest edition. >> i have the latest but some of them they think that she wrote earlier than others and they haven't been renewed -- i mean,
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harvard were the people who wrote to me and said very kind will you but you can have these for nothing. >> oh, that's terrible. >> that's terrible. >> i know. >> and the third question is, you said there were two people who are very generous. >> yes. >> you named one. who's the other one? just out of curiosity? >> cynthia osik she was very kind. and indeed she wrote kind of an addendum to her essay that i've quoted in the book which is kind of a new piece and cynthia has always struggled in her literary career whether she's a woman writer. she doesn't like to be called a woman writer. she hasn't liked to be called a woman writer because as she was growing up and this is what her essay suggest, being a woman writer was accepting inferiority. i think she's kind of gotten over that now. and she was incredibly kind and efficient and helpful and supportive. but i was staggered. i'm obviously not going to name
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names. but i was just amazed at people who i thought would be helpful and understanding and happy to have this -- it's not the writers' fault in most cases. it's the people who control the rights and literature is a very complicated series of strata, you know, and once you get into that realm, you get into the legal and financial aspects of it. it is out of control of the writer. >> well, thank you for all the work you did on this. it's wonderful. >> by definition it's expected that books have to be done if it's a female artist? >> well, it's an interesting question because even a very short time ago it was assumed that it was. whether it was assumed that this was so because it wasn't as good as a book by a man which is what
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many male critics and scholars believed and many women came to believe or after the feminist movement that the women have a totally different nature. they have a different way of looking at their world and the books deal with different topics and they have a different style and even as it's speculated different language. i think we're past that now in the 21st century. women writers are writers. they are women like they are americans. this is an american anthology. sometimes you might recognize a theme that you think is feminine or american but other times you won't. and i think that's a really good thing. it's a step towards creative freedom. but on the other hand, this is another kind of level of the nexus of the literary market. when women writers are reviewed, those stereotypes still come in to play and you'll see it every
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week. the post, i think, is really very good about this. and very aware. the "new york times" not so good. a lot of other places not so good. so as carol oates said, when i'm sitting down to write, i'm a writer and when i go to publish a writer i'm a woman writer and i think that's pretty effectively. pretty much what people think is a woman writer might be. >> is that because the review of the family -- >> well, as i said, i think that it was a mail view to begin with but women internalized. and there have been earlier writing of women's writing collectively and in some editions there were some women writers who refused to be in the book. you try to compare this as you imagine an anthology of black writing or american writing. can you imagine anybody saying, i won't be in that? you know, it's because women
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writers thought it was a stigma that they were women and they would appear in the context of other women writers and i will say that in this anthology nobody told me they wouldn't be in it because they were women which i hope was kind of a progress. yes, rachel. >> i think we're still struggling with marginality, though. >> yeah. >> women and different religious groups and blacks and whites -- i think this thing about well, i identify with it as part of my nature but at the same time i'm more interested in the larger society. >> yeah. and i think there's a lag. >> well, i think -- i think -- >> could you repeat part of it? >> it's asked whether -- there's still a sense -- >> use the mic. >> whether there's still a sense of marginality for women writers and like other minority writers,
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not that women are a writer. they feel they're not quite representative as a whole. that theirs is a marginal view, a subview and they can't speak for the entire culture. >> i think -- i think that most women, you know, like the idea of being identified now as women. i think there's a pride now that there wasn't before. but i think that what we haven't achieved is a balance, you know, i'm a woman but i'm also part of the society. >> uh-huh. >> and a sort of that -- that balance and i think that the critics -- there's a lag with the critics. that they're even further behind. >> i think you're absolutely right. it's particularly problematic
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for american writers because we have the fantasy called the great american novel. or, you know, the gan, the great american novel, and it has always been assumed that a great american novel must be about male experience. so that women are just somehow excluded from that category. and in the past decade we've had a number of famous riders who died, salinger and others and every time a great american male writer days there's a whole spate of articles, who's writing the great american novel now and there will be a list of 20 young male writers or middle-aged male writers, sometimes even elderly male writers and maybe one woman stuck on at the end. it's very frustrating because the assumption is somehow that the female experience is not the american experience.
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and it's certainly not the great american experience that is going to be reflected in the novel. and it's really hard i think for women writers to contest with that. there was a tremendous flap about jonathan fransin son whose novel was picked up by male critics and just hyped. this was another gan, this is another great american novel and it's really about a lot of things women write about. it's about families. it's about domestic life and some women writers said, you know, women just don't get this kind of attention. they don't get this kind of focus. it hasn't really happened yet. and it's usually -- that exclusion is usually attributed to the subject matter. it clearly isn't. it's really about gender. it's really -- when it's a man writing about the family, that is a contender. when it's a woman writing about the family, it's chick lit.
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>> could you -- you've talked about how it's perceived in america and the book is american authors. is it different in different countries? are women authors treated differently in europe or asia than they would be here? >> absolutely. it's different country by country and i won't try to go through it one by one but in england write started -- started to do my scholarly work on the english novel and where i live part of the time and spent part of the year in england. it's different. it's not english -- british writers are totally happy with it either. but there's not that same tradition or hope of the great novel, the great english novel and in addition if you look at the literary tradition in great britain there are a number of women who helped form it, jane austen, george elliott and so
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on. so it's extremely hard to come in to say women are incapable of producing it when they created it. and i think the expectations are different. when you look at 19th century literature in the united states, most people when i ask this question can identify two american women writers in the 19th century, emily dickinson and harriet beecher stowe. and dickinson is definitely accepted although i once taught a course at rutger and cotaught with a male colleague and we were doing whitman and dickinson and when it came to dickinson he said i can't read the little bitty poems. i don't want to bother with that. [laughter] >> so there is still a few -- a few throw-backs. but harriet beecher stowe entered american literary history as a bestseller as kind of a pulp fiction writer who wrote very important fiction and had a huge historical impact but not as an artist and one of the things i tried to do in my book
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is sort of contest that attitude. we don't have -- you know, we don't have an american jane austen. we don't have a 19th century woman novelist that had the same status and i think that has to be challenged and we have to say look, there's all these women writers producing artistisic work and they said to dismantle that. so i think even if you read reviews in england now there won't be quite the same imbalance that there is in american reviewing and there are a lot more inventory us for book-reviewing in great britain than there are in the united states and you get a lot more different voices on each publication. and here they're dwindling. thanks. >> hi. i have two questions. both related to what you mentioned when you were addressing that lady's question. >> yeah. >> the first one is when you
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said it is viewed differently if it is written by a female author, it's viewed differently than written by a male author. >> yeah. >> can that be attributed to gender discrimination. that's my first question and the second one, just as a curiosity, percentage wise, its 60/40 what are the percentages like? and also the critics or reviewerses, 50/50, 6/40? -- 60/40. >> i can't really precisely your questions about how many. it depends on what you're looking at. the "new york times" was -- there have been studies -- the "new york times" book review which is now still the dominant reviewing forum in the united states. as all the other ones get closed down, you know. and very recently there was a study done of the "new york times" and the reviewers were
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predominantly male. they have gotten quite touchy about that in my opinion. because the last several issues on the cover they had two reviews by women. i don't know what it will be this week. but they started making that up as hard as they could. in other places, you know, there will be equal and even more women. i don't know if it will be standardized. also, i couldn't really answer about portions of male and female writers. although it's my view that they're roughly equal and what i do know and i know barbara would confirm this for me is that women are the majority of the consumers of fiction in this country, whether it's by men or women. women buy the vast majority of novels, poems by any writer, male or female. and when the great carla cohen was with us she said at politics and prose they came to the front
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door it was like coming to the wedding, bride and the groom's side. it's something i quoted for jury for peers and there have been choices. and the difference what they're writing about is discrimination. i don't like the word discrimination as such. i think stereotypes and received opinions. i don't think this day and age -- i think people will feel uncomfortable if they thought they were discriminating but they were expressing attitudes that they have -- that are very ingrained and very hard to eliminate. and they have to be made of that. every now and then you'll get a woman writer who published under a male pseudoname and that was very common in europe. i think bruce asked about other traditions. american women writers have very rarely used mail pseudonames; whereas, in europe all over


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