Discussion: literature doesn’t exist in a vacuum

I was talking to the lovely Laura @thebookcorps and our conversation inspired this blog post.

(Note: for the sake of simplicity I’m adopting the, ironically for this post, all-American way of using “American” to only mean something that comes from the United States. I’m aware that America is a continent and I hope you all believe me when I say I cringe every time I use this adjective in the, well, “North American” way.)

I am an European, specifically Italian reviewer. The online book community is predominantly American-minded, and with this I don’t only mean that most reviewers are based in the US, but that almost everyone, even not US-based, has acquired a very US-centric approach to judging media, specifically books but not only.

If you are a critical-minded person you won’t take this as an attack on American culture or American readers, but you’ll simply sit back and read a point of view that is perhaps different than your own.

There are two filters that people in the book community apply to literature. One is time based, the other one is culture based. Too many people review and judge a piece of old or even ancient literature through a modern lens. Too many people judge a piece of not American literature through an American or semi-American lens.

That is not only the wrong approach to literature, it’s also (*collective gasp of anticipation from the audience*) p r o b l e m a t i c (*various brains explode in the audience*).

Excuse my rather sarcastic approach to this but I’m so fed up. I blame most of it on the school system. I don’t know how it is everywhere else and I have obviously never gone to school in the US but I have heard my friends and mutuals talk about it enough that I don’t have any problems saying this: the US school system is full of issues at best, and to be reinvented completely at worst.

Yes, I hereby admit that I’ll forever be an “Italian schools are the best” snob, but I have the feeling that you don’t have to have learned in an Italian school to understand that no piece of literature exists in a vacuum, and every book or TV show or manga or whatever is always contextual to the author’s personal, social and cultural environment.

In Italian schools, we don’t learn one subject without it going hand-in-hand with the others. We start high school and we learn our history chronologically, focusing mostly on European history. There are points to be made about us not learning the history of many other countries or continents even, but the thing is nobody can in the few school hours learn every single thing out there, and we learn our history specifically be able to give a context to the literature and the philosophy we learn (again, mostly Euro-centric).

School programs make it so you most likely don’t start reading Plato without having first learned about what was going on in Greece and in Athens around the time he was alive. Not just historically, but philosophically, socially and culturally.

Trigger warning for pedophilia and statutory rape mention in the next three paragraphs:

Do you know what was fully integrated in ancient Greek culture? Paiderastia, the act of adult men having sexual and erotic relationships with pubescent and adolescent boys. Specifically in Athenians laws, this act was regulated by the fact that the boys had to consent, but the law itself set no limit to the age of consent.

It wasn’t the same in every city and it wasn’t the same in every time period, but you’ll find pieces of literature where this practice is mentioned and talked about as a no big deal (because obviously it was part of their culture, so it wasn’t a big deal to them).

Now, if you apply the modern filter to reviewing any piece of such literature, you’d say something like, “I hate this, the author condones pedophilia and/or statutory rape. It’s disgusting that something like was published.”

You certainly may do that, but you’ll ridicule yourself in front of everyone who reads your review who is able to put a piece of literature in its original context. By all means, say which trigger warnings apply so that readers are aware of them going into it if they decide to read it. But distance yourself and your cultural and modern-day values from this piece written by humans who lived more than two thousand years before you, who shared almost none of our modern thinking in many aspects and not just the one I used as example here.

The same thing can be said when we’re judging pieces of modern literature through our cultural background, when it doesn’t match the one of the author. It’s a little more nuanced in this case because in modern times some values are (or should be) universal, but for example we can’t make blank statements about racism as if it’s exactly the same everywhere in the world. Racism in the US is very specific and unique and it sits on hundred of years of  slavery and colonization but it’s not the only type of racism out there. Racism in Europe exists and it exists among white people too, but any time an European tries to explain it, the obligatory American reader will jump out of their shell and scream that said European is being problematic, and will start USplaining Europe to them.

Now how about we all take a step back and analyze ourselves and the way we view literature? It’s okay if we don’t understand or can’t put ourselves in the shoes of someone whose background is completely different than ours. I’ve DNF’d books because literally nothing of what I read spoke to me and it was too alienating when my whole reading experience was about reminding myself to view things through an US-based lens because that’s where the author who wrote it comes from. But I realized that the problem was mine and I tried not to speak above the voice of the author or the many reviewers who found their own experience reflected in said book (I’m talking about Juliet Takes a Breath btw).

It just seems to me that everyone else in the world automatically views American media (not just books) through a self-imposed filter of American values that aren’t necessarily their own. That alone speaks of the sheer power that American media has in the world, and I’m not here to judge whether that’s well-deserved or not. But when it comes to doing the same, Americans and people used to mostly (if not only) consuming American media don’t seem to make an effort to understand the context and the value of a non American product.

They go as far as remaking non American media such as movies and even anime (the Netflix Death Note anyone?????) thinking that it’s okay to take ANY story and make it American.

Now who’s being problematic? Who’s erasing and appropriating cultures? Who’s speaking above the voices of those who say “please don’t speak about my own values and culture, let ME talk about them”?

I fear if I go on I’ll just ramble more than I have already done, so I’m stopping here because I believed I made my point clear.

I’d love to hear everyone’s point of view on this, whether you live in the US or not, so please come talk to me in the comments!

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43 thoughts on “Discussion: literature doesn’t exist in a vacuum

  1. My degree is in English literature, with a focus on medieval literature (which I’ve taught), so getting students to think about the historical context of literature has always been a big issue for me. I agree that the gut reaction of many people is to apply modern standards and worldviews to texts where those worldviews simply didn’t exist, and that makes understanding and analyzing the text extremely difficult. As a base example, the Middle Ages comes across as extremely misogynistic by today’s standards. But if you sit down and read a text from the 1300s and just huff and puff about how sexist it is, you’re not going to get very far or get anything out of it. It really is essential to understand medieval concepts of sex and gender roles. If you can do that, you suddenly realize that a passive that sounds extremely sexist by the standards of 2017 may have been considered radically progressive and well, *nice* to women, at the time the text was written. It’s important to draw those distinctions if you want to understand what a text is doing.

    As for cultures, yes, I’m American, so I tend to have that POV of things. However, there was a woman in one of my graduate seminars who spoke at length in one class about how racism is different in Europe, and she pointed out that racism among certain groups of white people distinctly exists and is a problem, but she noticed that in America people had a tendency to dismiss it and decree it was impossible. It was definitely very helpful to hear her perspective on that and other issues.

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    • Thank you so much for your feedback!

      I agree, seeing everything through a modern lens makes it look like getting where we are now is something that happened a few seconds ago, when that’s obviously not true! It’s true that there are always a few setbacks in any social issues throughout history, but overall things got better with time, so to simply deny that any progress was, well, PROGRESS for that time is very anti-historical and quite frankly shitty.

      YES YES YES racism can take many forms and it’s no wonder that in Europe, where racism exists among white people as well, saying “race” makes you sound like a literal Nazi. I’ve been accused of colorblindness by Americans but I’m not here to erase anyone’s skin color or heritage or cultural background, we just literally can’t say the word race in our different languages (which btw a lot of people forget that we don’t speak English in our everyday life??) because in Europe THAT’S a Nazi word, so it’s super-hella-forbidden. But almost no American is willing to hear our arguments about it because the culture over there is so heavy with the word “race” (and I’m not saying American culture surrounding race is wrong and the European way is right, it’s just two very different contexts).

      So thank you for being one of the listeners, I appreciate it!

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  2. I agree with everything you wrote. The US social justice conversations do not always apply to Italy. We have our problems, they’re not the same.
    US reviewers should learn to put down their US lenses sometimes. Many of them like to think that things true for the US are universal/true for all (usually western, but not always) countries in all times, for some reason.

    And to quit/dislike books because they were too US-centric happened to me, too. Some US authors assume so much, starting from the setting (not described: you should already know how it looks like).
    America isn’t the world, but many Americans seem to have a problem with that.

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    • Absolutely agree with everything! It’s so obvious in many different contexts how Americans take for granted that everybody must be 100% familiar with their culture/customs and they don’t bother to try to explain or ask “How do you do X over there?”

      A stupid example but take fanfiction, all the high school or college AUs take place in the American school system (regardless of the nationality of the characters) and they never bother explaining it even though most of the people who will be reading that fanfic are not based in the US. Why should I know what a sophomore or a senior is, or what a major and a minor in college are? If I were to write a fanfiction taking place in an Italian liceo I would first try to explain how things work over here, at least a little. I would never assume everybody knows the difference between classico and scientifico, istituti tecnici and so on.

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      • I absolutely agree that Americans are way too U.S.-centric in their thinking, but regarding the necessity of explaining, for your example, what the American school system is like and what majors/minors are — that seems rather unrealistic and, well, just too much? If I were reading a novel or fanfiction set in Italy written by an Italian person, I wouldn’t expect them to explain their entire school system to non-Italians, I would just Google things I don’t understand. Similarly, when I’m watching any anime I never expect that anime to explain everything about Japanese culture or customs or school systems to me.

        With any writing and especially fanfiction, too, I would say that you couldn’t assume the author’s intended audience is global or even national. Some authors write for certain people in mind (for example, a Korean-American author writing a novel that wants to speak to other Korean-Americans), and other people are welcome to read it but not the target audience, and thus wouldn’t have everything explained to them and are not entitled to an explanation. If I’m writing a story set in a U.S. university, I also wouldn’t expect to explain how it works any more than I would expect a U.K. book to explain to me how U.K. universities work or an Ancient Greek text to explain to me common-knowledge things in Ancient Greece. The reader is expected to do the research to understand foreign texts.

        Also, regarding the Death Note example, I totally agree that it was a poor decision motivated by U.S.-centrism, but a lot of Asian-Americans spoke out about it for this precise reason. That is NOT to say that American people of color can’t be very U.S.-centric because we absolutely can and are and should learn more about international perspectives. But in this particular example, it was WHITE Americans who were Westernizing and whitewashing a Japanese story, and many ASIAN Americans were against this. So, all American, but divided on this issue based on other factors. So I guess I’d be more careful about who or what you mean by American (in some instances I know it’s all/most Americans, regardless of race, but in others it might be just White Americans or a another type of American).

        Sorry this got so long — I really do agree with your main point that Americans need to stop applying U.S. standards to everything or not bothering to understand other cultural contexts.

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  3. I feel this deeply, I used to live in South Korea and reading comments online or talking to people here back in the western world, it’s so frustrating how they judge east-asian culture from a very ignorant and uninformed point of view. People from the US think open-mindedness means liberalism when it’s in fact accepting and respecting other people’s/cultures- keeping a neutral point of view when approaching foreign culture. It’s the US’s ideologic monopoly that controls the world, like a new kind of media imperialism. There’s uncountable ways in which US citizens misjudge other kinds of media, racism like you mentioned would be the most prominent one. They don’t seem to grasp the concept that each civilization developed their own discriminatory ways, under their own circumstances. When I read or watch foreign movies, there’s many intances where I don’t understand why the character perfoms actions that might seem common to them (e.g. wasting food); however, as someone who has lived and has had contact with several cultures I just think “Huh, I suppose they do that.” regardless of my personal values. I just don’t get why US people expect simpathy for their habits/traditions, yet never do the same for others. It’s also curious how they’re surprised when you didn’t watch the same shows or had the same childhood experiences as them, thinking it’s a pitty that you were deprived of that while ignoring that you have your own enjoyable childhood in your own way. I don’t even know which point I wanted to make but anyway, loved to read your post.
    PS. Refering to the USA as “North America” would also be a mistake, as Mexico and Canda are part of it as well.

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    • You’re absolutely right about everything you said. Honestly the key word here is “neutrality”. There’s a time and space for *analyzing* (not criticizing) any culture and custom, but that’s not while reviewing or judging a medium.

      P.S.: yeah you’re right, there’s just no other way of saying “American” if you don’t wanna use “US-citizen”, but that somehow feels too personal, like I’m somehow “attacking” the single citizens you know??

      Thank you so much for your comment!

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  4. Silvia this is such a great post and I agree with you wholeheartedly!!

    Even though I’m Australian, and Australia shares many similar values to America, I find it hard to observe books through an American-centric lens.
    THIS RIGHT HERE: “It just seems to me that everyone else in the world automatically views American media (not just books) through a self-imposed filter of American values that aren’t necessarily their own.” It took me so long to unlearn my “American” way of thinking online, because I would honestly freak out if my personal opinions didn’t meet those of what I saw – and I eventually realised the predominant opinions I saw online were the American ones.
    It angers me to no end that every other country needs to mould their beliefs and opinions to an American way of thinking, but Americans don’t do the same – in fact, they frequently call out those who don’t (here I’m talking about the issues surrounding racism, which we talked about at length last night, so I won’t go into it again.)

    I love how you brought up American remakes, because that is something that has annoyed me too. I’m sure you’ve heard of HBO’s Big Little Lies, right? Well I don’t know if you know that it was a book adaptation … from an Australian author … SET in Sydney, Australia. And where is the show set in? Oh, right, somewhere in America.
    There’s also the U.S. miniseries called the Slap. The Slap is based on an Aussie book and it is LITERALLY the most Australian thing I’ve ever read in my life. It focuses heavily on Aussie stereotypes, idioms, etc., and when I found out some American company was remaking it, I was furious.
    Why do Americans feel like they have the right to retell other countries stories? Why aren’t WE – OUR stories – enough?

    This is such a great post, Silvia, and I’m really glad you got your thoughts down about this issue, because it IS an issue. There’s nothing wrong with being unable to connect to a book due to different life experiences, and yet I always feel that Americans don’t understand that. Sometimes it feels like America vs. literally the rest of the world when it comes to certain issues, and I also feel inadequate if I don’t agree.

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    • i’m so glad we talked yesterday because I was able to organize thoughts that I had been trying to share for a long time now! So thank YOU!

      Ughhh why can’t they understand and accept that ANY story will always be linked to its original context and you can’t just take it and remake it however you wish without belittling the issues it wants to portray. Even if it’s a lighthearted story or whatever, certain jokes/lingo/whatever will never translate unless you leave the original context and source. Idk if this is making sense anymore but yeah, the whole topic is so nuanced and broad that it’s impossible to cover everything in a few paragraphs, but I’m so glad many people are agreeing!

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  5. While I do think the US has a huge influence on how we, as citizens of countries in the EU, reflect on media I think we can only safely say this about us. On the other hand industrial nations and emerging economies, such as Russia, China, South Korea and Japan, aren’t as affected as we are.
    While the propagation of US beliefs and views happened naturally through them being very invested in dominating our market ever since the beginning of the 20th century and while the political and economic situations benefited their intent the situation has only worsened through their dominance of the social networks most of us are using as well.
    If someone ever created a “safe space” for non-US-people to use and discuss I’d gladly jump on that train.
    I am fed up with US people forcing their own beliefs on others in far too many online discussions regarding art as soon as someone holds said discussion in English rather than their native language. And I can only imagine how annoying it must be for people from the UK that can’t exclude US Americans by simply changing the language they talk in.

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    • Interesting points, especially about my post being true for Europeans. Still, the main issue remains how Americans view the rest of the world more than how the rest of the world sees America. Specifically I was talking about media but it’s a broader issue that covers many aspects of any other nation’s culture.

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  6. If you don’t mind me asking, I’m curious why you specifically called out Netflix Death Note as appropriation, given that Warner Bros. purchased the rights?

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    • Because the whole Death Note anime relies on the very specific relationship that Japan and Japanese people have with justice and the justice system, which is different than the American one, as well as many other details that are so exclusively Japanese that you just can’t translate them into a story set in any other country. I haven’t watched the movie yet and I can’t find the articles or tweets I read about this issue and I’m not a Japan expert but I encourage you to do some research about it.
      Purchasing the rights means you can make the movie; it doesn’t mean you SHOULD have or that the movie is going to be good.

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      • Well, certainly, the Death Note anime (and the manga before it) rely on certain Japanese notions that may not translate well into a US cultural view–but the Death Note movie is NOT the anime or the manga, it’s a US adaptation, and certainly judging it by those standards is as invalid as judging the original from a US-centric perspective?

        I strongly disagree that any aspect of Japanese (or any other foreign) culture is “so exclusively Japanese” that it simply cannot be translated into a story set elsewhere. Certainly, the Japanese have a very different cultural context, but they are not so Other as to be beyond understanding, and exoticising Asian cultures in this manner is harmful.

        Death Note is not some cultural heritage of the Japanese people. It’s a modern comic created by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, and they profited from Warner Bros. purchasing the rights to a film adaptation. I have a hard time considering this an appropriation because of this.

        When you say Warner Bros. shouldn’t have purchased the rights, you’re indirectly saying that it’s wrong for Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata to profit from their work in this fashion.

        Please don’t misunderstand my position, here. You are absolutely correct that media should be read from a multitude of contexts, and the viewing things from exclusively a US-centric viewpoint is harmful. But when you then extrapolate from this that adapting media to different contexts is itself wrong, you’re actually limiting the number of contexts that media can be read from, as well as harming the original artists who’d profit from that adaptation.

        All of which is, ironically enough, and extremely common viewpoint in the US.

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        • An adaptation will always be just that, an adaptation. Why there’s even the need for an adaptation is the question. It’s because Americans aren’t used to consuming media that isn’t American, and they never will be if they need to be spoon-fed any product in a way that is easy and less mind-challanging to them.

          To adapt a story to a different context will always be a way to erasing the original context. As the title of this post says: there’s always a huge cultural surround to any story that just isn’t the same if you move the story somewhere else. It also heavily depends on the depth of the story you’re trying to tell, and usually the deeper it is the harder it is to translate it. Let me make a reverse example: would an Italian adaptation of a book about the black lives matter movement make any sense? No, because the black population here is much smaller and it has such a different story and it’s just not something you can export here unless you leave it in its original context. But that’s what America does with every single adaptation while it could simply translate or dub or put English subtitles to the original, untainted source.

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          • It’s true that there was no need for an adaption of Death Note, but it is also true that there was no need for the original Death Note. If you expect art to justify itself, you’re going to be unsatisfied.

            The claim that “Americans aren’t used to consuming media that isn’t American” seems spurious. Certainly, many Americans don’t regularly consume foreign media, but all the same Japanese anime and manga is extremely popular here. Back in 2008, total sales of manga in the Death Note series alone broke $3.7 million dollars.* Clearly, some American’s are consuming foreign media!

            You said America “could simply translate or dub or put English subtitles to the original, untainted source.” America does this. There are several comic stores in my small city alone where you can buy translated manga and anime, let alone huge online markets like Amazon and the like.

            Given that these translations exist, your objection seems to be that any adaptions happen at all, which again, doesn’t seem to be an objection that the original creators share. Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata are Japanese, do you know better than them who they can and can’t sell the rights to their work?

            I also object to your use of the word “untainted” here. Tainted by what, the English language, or the US cultural experience? How is that any different than the original Death Note being tainted by the Japanese language and the Japanese cultural experience?

            Let me finally address your hypothetical: would an Italian adaptation of a book about the black lives matter movement make any sense? Certainly, if it were adapted to the Italian cultural experience! Because the black population there is much smaller and it has a different story, an adaptation would likely be extremely beneficial for fully communicating the story!

            *https://animetics.net/us-manga-print-sales-statistics/

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    • Yeah… it seems that in every medium on the internet (YouTube, humor websites, retro games…) “video game nostalgia” seems to be synonymous with “references to classic NES games played by American kids back in the eighties”. Mario, Contra, Zelda, Mega Man are fine games, sure… but really, they weren’t a part of *my* childhood, or for that matter, the childhood of most adult gamers from my country, and I’m kinda tired of seeing them referenced over and over. Where are the references to classic DOS games, or the old 8-bit computers for that matter? Because that’s what people were playing throughout a large part of Europe.

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  7. I’m French and I study English. I agree with every single thing you said here. I know that the statement you maid also applies to me. For example, a few days ago I finished a French novel written by French authors, it was so weird for me to see that the story was evolving in places where I have my habits. I’m not used to it. I can read novels of English authors (mostly Americans) and don’t be bothered by the fact that I don’the get every cultural meanings. I feel so “Americanised”, I feel more American than French some times. It can be a good thing in the way that it forces me to learn more about the culture of this country. It’s not a big deal for me because here in France it’s very common to live between two cultures. People are so proud of their origins that they don’t completely integrate the culture of the new culture they live in. In France, you have to be proud of your origines. And sometimes, it’seems a shame to feel French but feeling, talking and dressing like an American isn’the a shame.
    I study English literature, American and British. I have a big preference for the British culture, I’m in love with it like most people in my promo. We tend to prefer the British culture mostly because the country is nearer to ours.
    It’s really hard to not apply your vision to the book you’require reading (from this erasmus or another one). I’m studying ‘A passage in India’, I try to be objective, to not apply my 21st century woman point of view. I try to feel the reading as a person of the 20th century but we all know that it’s hardly possible to do that.
    Ironically, the fact that the word is Americanised helps people to open their mind, to see things differently.

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  8. I guess I wouldn’t mind books that assume everybody knows the US context they describe, if only the rest of us were permitted to tell our stories without having to dilute them for US readers. I worked a couple of times with a generally progressive US publisher that rejected my references to the Northern Irish and Scottish contexts, saying American readers wouldn’t relate to the former and changing words connected to the latter, which made my own experience sound that little bit more bland. I felt indignant that Americans need to ‘relate’, and hell, I’d be happy to include a glossary or whatever if they really need a little extra help.

    These days I try to limit the number of US accounts I follow online, because US news and pop culture are going to find their way to me regardless, and I want to save more space for non-US and non-Western takes. When it comes to issues of race, I’ve learned (and still learn) a lot from Americans, but it doesn’t map neatly on to European contexts and even less so here in Southeast Asia.

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  9. This is a really fantastic post!! Thank you for writing it, and to all the other commenters who’ve shared their own experiences. I’m American myself (I could go on about how shitty it is that most people from the US don’t even see the issue with calling our country “America”), and I agree that this is definitely an issue. It’s something I’ve been guilty of myself, and you’ve picked out so many key problems here–especially the ignorance/lack of motivation to try to understand a piece of literature within its own context.

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  10. There are a lot of “critics” out there that use the “death of the author” interpretation, where they substitute the original context with their own. This could be valid if you just see the work out there on its own, but they take it a step further and pin the blame on the author, *after* having reinterpreted in a way the author never could have possibly imagined. It has gotten to the point where it becomes a character assassination, and in some cases, even an attempt to erase them from history. You can see that in the attacks on statues and monuments. Most of the people (if not all) that take it that far aren’t doing it out of an honest intention to critique, but to push a political agenda. There are a lot of people like that in the US right now.

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  11. This is a FANTASTIC post, both content and structure wise. You’re very eloquent and put everything into words perfectly. I completely agree with you. As a non-American reviewer I am definitely very aware of the things you spoke about and I see them all the time. A lot of people get a lot of grief online solely because people fail to take a step back and assess the situation in the appropriate context. It’s really annoying and disheartening. But this is a wonderful post!

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  12. This is super interesting! First of all, I live in the US. So do with that what you will. But I’ve become a lot more aware and a LOT more sensitive since I’ve created a presence online and become more social with various different blogging groups. And I think that a lot of the offensive things that come from “Americans” (using this term the same way you did above) are due to ignorance. As are most others. For example, I’ve read quite a few European books at this point, and um, I still have no idea how the schools work. It’s super confusing to me to hear British people talking about their… levels, is it? I simply don’t understand it, because it’s never been explained to me. That’s definitely one of the reasons why I enjoy reading books about other cultures; you can learn a lot just by viewing the same world through someone else’s lens. And it’s not fair to always make “international” bloggers see it through an American lens.
    Although I do have to say, I agree with most of your points, but it’s always difficult to generalize a large group of people (especially an entire country) as having one mindset or opinion. There’s always exceptions, and I think we all forget that. It’s not fair of me to automatically assume that all Italians… I don’t know, like pizza. Since the US is so privileged in many ways, I often see people assuming things about Americans as well. Obviously, we don’t all like pizza (although I personally do). So I hope (for all of our sakes) that this discussion doesn’t pertain to ABSOLUTELY everyone in the country.
    Anyhoo, forgive me if I’ve said anything offensive (although I surely hope not); I thought I’d just put my opinion out there. Thanks for starting such an interesting discussion!

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    • Thank you so much for your comment! Of course it goes without saying that any generalization will never automatically be 100% accurate for any individual of any given group of people, and it’s only because I was in a hurry and very annoyed when I wrote this post that I didn’t specify it (there’s also always a “it goes without saying” in the back of my mind), but sometimes in order to talk about cultures, generalizing is the only way to do so. I don’t blame the individuals, and many people on Twitter and under this blog reached out to me to tell me both how they agreed with me AND how I myself might have biases (of course, who doesn’t, that’s not the point here). The point is that my post was a commentary of my one year of being within the book and fandom community (the two differ slightly in that fandom culture tends to be much more forceful in its biases and often there is no dialogue between people coming from different cultures, and it’s sadly often Americans who basically tell you “this is how it’s done here so I’m right and you’re wrong” – again, not all Americans, and many even fight against this wave of what we call “antis” – if you want specific examples of “anti” culture I can give them to you). Perhaps I should have made my post clearer in this regard (the difference between book and fandom community) but there are always things one looks back at and realizes how many more nuances there are to any given topic, how many things might have been written differently, but I’m afraid exploring every single aspect would be worthy of a “graduation thesis” (that’s something we have in Italy and I guess you have something like that too) both in length and in depth.
      And don’t worry, you haven’t said anything offensive, and let me repeat myself: this post absolutely does not apply to every individual, it only applies to a certain way of approaching books and media that from what I’ve seen almost only comes from American individuals.

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      • Right, I totally get that! There’s always an excepting. And I know how hard it is to say ANYTHING on the internet these days without offending some random soul who just wants to be picky, haha!
        That makes a lot of sense. I don’t really partake in a lot of fandoms (if any), so I definitely wouldn’t have realized that.
        Hahaha I definitely know what you mean by a thesis! That would be quite a bit of writing indeed. 😉
        I’m glad! I really appreciated hearing your perspective and this post was super eye-opening to me. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m from Québec and I have experienced this with people from the US, ROC (rest of Canada), and Europeans francophones. A lot of people see our social and political issues through their contextual lense and ignore how our history and cultures are different. With the ROC this often is worst around election times because a lot of people dismiss and infantilize the opinions and worries of Quebec. I haven’t seen the repercussions in literature because I never saw someone from outside of Québec mention a book from here.

    A lot of French people love to shit on Québec French, refusing to speak French with us because they can’t understand our accent or because we are ‘ruining’ their language. Some people even believe that we speak a different language! Growing up I read a lot of books from France so I learned about the French school system, French culture, French slang, etc. One day I learned that my one of my favorite series was going to be published in France. I was so happy. Finally, French kids would learn about my culture and about the way I talked, and the slang I used. But then they went and ‘translated’ the book to make it more accessible to French kids. It was totally cool for me to read about French kids but French kids reading about me that’s not okay.

    Like

  14. Your discussions are eloquently written, and I 100% agree with what you said. As an international aspiring blogger, I’m really disappointed with how the book industries are beginning to shut out international readers. Count yourself another subscriber, as my pledge to support my fellow international book community, and besides, I love your writing style.

    Liked by 1 person

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