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Could Donaldson have written.....

 
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peter
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 5:06 am    Post subject: Could Donaldson have written..... Reply with quote

.......that scene in today's moral climate. Why were we so forgiving of him for this most terrible of crimes? Should we not have thrown any possibility of redemption for this noxious individual out of the window forthwith? How would we read the same book today if coming to it for the first time?
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 12:12 pm    Post subject: Re: Could Donaldson have written..... Reply with quote

peter wrote:
.......that scene in today's moral climate. Why were we so forgiving of him for this most terrible of crimes? Should we not have thrown any possibility of redemption for this noxious individual out of the window forthwith? How would we read the same book today if coming to it for the first time?


I'm not sure if he could 'get away' with writing that scene in the current climate - or rather, he could write it, but no publisher would go near it.

In saying that, the scene in question has been a notable rug-puller and deal-breaker for as long as the TCoTC have existed; I had the same reaction as many others have myself as a too-young-to-even-get-the-chronicles kid.

It's always been a transgressive scene, which has always made it tough to recommend to friends ..

It's the fact that it's the protagonist himself who perpetrates the act and not some pure evil villain that shocks and somehow betrays the reader.

That Covenant seemingly 'gets away' with it for a long period of time also bothers a lot of people; his self-centered musings as he accompanies Atiaran on the first leg of his journey to Revelstone yet another thing that irks, apparently.

*On top of that* there's the more contemporary argument that using rape as a literary device to somehow advance the perpetrator's arc is abhorrent ..

It's hard to necessarily disagree with any of that on face value, and 'today's moral climate' is primed to hone in and decry even fictionalised sexual assault

It's the #1 reason I very much doubt we'd be likely to see *any* type of modern adaptation of TCoTC any time soon ...

But I'm largely playing devil's advocate here because I love these books deeply and understand that the scene involving Covenant's crime is a necessary and even apt choice that Donaldson had to make in order for his story to work.

A murder, for example, would be a poor substitute for the rape, just as cancer would be a poor substitute for leprosy.

We readers who pressed on after the infamous scene were eventually given a nuanced account of the repercussions of Covenant's actions, which were far-reaching and painful for all.
And many readers, after digesting the initial shock of Covenant's crime, were able to recognize the uniquely designed circumstances which trigger Covenant's violent sexual 'dream' assault.
That doesn't mean we excuse the or overlook the act; Covenant himself never does either.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

peter, you beat me to it. I had been thinking that very same thing, but had yet to post.

IMO, yes, he could have written the book. SRD considers rape [in a literal as well as a metaphoric sense] the greatest evil that there is. Any new enlightening on this issue would only serve his purpose more.

But also IMO the movie is doomed. No one would ever green-light it now. Don't get me wrong - I agree. But this makes me sad for what might have been.

Remember, the proclivity for sexual assault is about power, not sex. It's about demonstrating that you can do it and get away with it. It's about making your victim know that they are helpless and without recourse. It's about demonstrating to yourself how much power you have because you are inately insecure about your power.

Covenant doesn't quite fit that paradigm. Although one could argue there's a bit of truth to it. A skilled author could navigate that. (I am thinking that the rape can be seen as evidence of Covenant's brand new and hence wielded recklessly power of wild magic. This would be an interesting discussion as to how close that matches Weinstein's alleged motives.)

But movie making is predisposed to simple, and hence dumbed-down, arguments about morality. Money is risk averse. Anything smacking of sexual-assault-for-entertainment-purposes is a non-starter.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's interesting at how (reputedly) Donaldson drew back from a full on 'loving' encounter with Elena because it crossed the incest taboo, yet felt the violent assault on a child (or little more) was acceptable. Could the story have been reworked without the scene: it's difficult to see how given the ramifications that run through the series as a result of it, from the first book to the last - it would be a different story.
I think Covenant's act was as much an expression of anger and helplessness as of lust (though that undoubtedly played it's part), and that in part enabled us to persevere in our journey alongside this conflicted and deeply damaged man. But yes - I agree that Covenant never forgives himself ........ and we in turn never forgive him, but there is always more to an individual than a single act and in our accompanying him we are forced to confront that.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can't see how it could have happened any other way. I don't think Covenant was angry, or just angry. He had been suffering from Leprosy, was impotent, had no feeling - and suddenly all feeling returned when he never dreamed it was possible. AND it was just a dream, according to him at the time.

And he spent the rest of the series, and more, paying for it.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 7:44 am    Post subject: Could Donaldson have written..... Reply with quote

peter wrote:
It's interesting at how (reputedly) Donaldson drew back from a full on 'loving' encounter with Elena because it crossed the incest taboo, yet felt the violent assault on a child (or little more) was acceptable. Could the story have been reworked without the scene: it's difficult to see how given the ramifications that run through the series as a result of it, from the first book to the last - it would be a different story.
I think Covenant's act was as much an expression of anger and helplessness as of lust (though that undoubtedly played it's part), and that in part enabled us to persevere in our journey alongside this conflicted and deeply damaged man. But yes - I agree that Covenant never forgives himself ........ and we in turn never forgive him, but there is always more to an individual than a single act and in our accompanying him we are forced to confront that.


re: the bolded; I always felt like Covenant's crime was in part a way for him to lash out and fight back against the dream/delusion that so threatened his sanity - there was *I think* a sentence along the lines of Covenant tearing Lena's shift 'as if exposing a foul plot' - something along those lines anyway; my books are currently packed away in preparation for a move so I can't actually reference it at the moment...
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with that. In part, Covenant was rejecting hero-pressure, and so he lashed out at one of the hero-worshippers. But there were other parts - fear of insanity, renewed potency, and overstress of weakened social functions.

Symbolically, there are yet other things going on.

But as far as #metoo goes: the act is inexcusable, and the story has this be so. But the act is also swept aside, not forgiven or condoned but tolerated and unpunished, even to some degree hidden (think Troy). That strikes rather a sensitive blow to the matter. Lena and her family are destroyed by it, desiring a retribution never attained, and that again is a sensitive blow. Covenant never forgives himself, but who considers that sufficient consequence?

The matter of power is central as well. Covenant, in the Land, has the power of wild magic. Symbolically, the rape of Lena is it's first utterance, and by this testifies to the danger of power that is ignorant and reckless. That the rape was a demonstration of power more than an act of sex again strikes to the heart of #metoo.

That all said, I don't think Donaldson is on the wrong side of the issue anywhere in this. However, in this current time the story has a lot more explaining to do in order to be considered so. People need to be convinced. Especially the aspect of Covenant's non-punishment from the Lords. No man is only his crime, but it's a hard sell on this issue - it is faced squarely against the various angles of complicity that we now consider. No Lord need worry that someone from the Land would consider them condoners of the rape of a minor, but someone from our world might.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In today current climate LFB would be the
Book to burn of the month club.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 5:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Was Covenant's crime widely known about in the Land/Revelstone; I think it must have been, so the people would be guilty of 'condoning' the act on a wide scale from our perspective (or at least exhibiting a degree of forgiveness and understanding that showed scant regard for the devastating effect of his actions on hi victims). This would be problematic for a publisher today I think; even 1940's gangster flicks required the glamorous villains to come to a sticky end (think Angels With Dirty Faces) to emphasize the moral aspects of crime. Covenant was given a 'get out of jail' card he didn't deserve, would be the take today most like.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 2:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are they guilty of condoning? What about the practical matter of Covenant being necessary for the Land's survival?

It's not like Revelstone had a lock-up for miscreants. That's not what the people of the Land did. And then there's Mhoram, who understood Covenant best, and he saw that Covenant's actions arose from confusion, pressure, and rage, not any innate evil.

Donaldson has seen deeply into the matter. It's our world that has the shallow vision.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 4:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Agreed Wayfriend, understanding the complex and varied reasons why 'good people do terrible things' is a daily preoccupation of defense lawyers the world over; the rest of us have the luxury of thinking in terms of black and white. To understand anyone's motives or drivers in committing such abominable acts would require an intimate knowledge of their life from day one , and even then.......
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

peter wrote:
Was Covenant's crime widely known about in the Land/Revelstone; I think it must have been


Perhaps not. In TIW Hile Troy doesn't know about Covenant's crime until Covenant himself told Troy that it was the reason why Trell attacked him. If it was common knowledge, the Warmark would have been likely to have known about it without having to be told by Covenant.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 10:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:
Are they guilty of condoning? What about the practical matter of Covenant being necessary for the Land's survival?

It's not like Revelstone had a lock-up for miscreants. That's not what the people of the Land did. And then there's Mhoram, who understood Covenant best, and he saw that Covenant's actions arose from confusion, pressure, and rage, not any innate evil.

Donaldson has seen deeply into the matter. It's our world that has the shallow vision.


There is ample evidence from the text that the people of the Land would have regarded rape as a reprehensible act, although we are not really shown what system of sanctions or restorative justice the Land had to redress instances of rape.

This then poses the question: how would a contemporary readership, or publishers concerned about the responses of the readership, respond to a story in which many of the wisest and best characters seem to have decided that an act they all agree to be reprehensible should go unredressed in the interests of the greater good - "the practical matter of Covenant being necessary for the Land's survival". Especially when there is a very real (and IMHO well-grounded) concern in societies such as the ones we live in about rapists, sexual assailants, serious sexual harassers, etc., being soft-soaped by courts because "we wouldn't want to ruin his promising legal/medical/business/political/military/etc. career" or for some other reason that is put forward and set against the assault survivor's claim to justice.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2017 6:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well put DrPaul; thought also must run in the opposite direction where punishment can be out of all proportion to the harm done. I read a letter to The Times in which a retired Judge recounted how he had been mandatoraly obliged to place a twenty one year old boy on the sex offenders register for five years for the crime of slapping a girl on the rear in a night club. As such he would be required to register himself with the police in any town he lived in and declare it on any job application he made or risk punitive action in the courts. In the face of these two opposing currents it's difficult to see how a balance of presentation and perception of the story could be achieved in today's world. I wonder how much we ourselves of that older period has changed as well; would we still entertain the storyline now if encountering it for the first time?
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2017 7:00 am    Post subject: Could Donaldson have written..... Reply with quote

peter wrote:
Well put DrPaul; thought also must run in the opposite direction where punishment can be out of all proportion to the harm done. I read a letter to The Times in which a retired Judge recounted how he had been mandatoraly obliged to place a twenty one year old boy on the sex offenders register for five years for the crime of slapping a girl on the rear in a night club. As such he would be required to register himself with the police in any town he lived in and declare it on any job application he made or risk punitive action in the courts. In the face of these two opposing currents it's difficult to see how a balance of presentation and perception of the story could be achieved in today's world. I wonder how much we ourselves of that older period has changed as well; would we still entertain the storyline now if encountering it for the first time?


Not sure, fans of blockbuster tv show Game of Thrones have tolerated many (fictional!) sexual assaults and abuses throughout it's run.
In saying that though, there *was* a backlash of sorts a couple of seasons ago involving two such incidents. Still one of the most popular shows on the planet though.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2017 7:02 am    Post subject: Re: Could Donaldson have written..... Reply with quote

[quote="SleeplessOne"]
peter wrote:
Well put DrPaul; thought also must run in the opposite direction where punishment can be out of all proportion to the harm done. I read a letter to The Times in which a retired Judge recounted how he had been mandatoraly obliged to place a twenty one year old boy on the sex offenders register for five years for the crime of slapping a girl on the rear in a night club. As such he would be required to register himself with the police in any town he lived in and declare it on any job application he made or risk punitive action in the courts. In the face of these two opposing currents it's difficult to see how a balance of presentation and perception of the story could be achieved in today's world. I wonder how much we ourselves of that older period has changed as well; would we still entertain the storyline now if encountering it for the first time?


Not sure, but fans of blockbuster tv show Game of Thrones have tolerated many (fictional!) sexual assaults and abuses throughout it's run.
In saying that though, there *was* a backlash of sorts a couple of seasons ago involving two such incidents. Still one of the most popular shows on the planet though.
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