Monday, January 10, 2011

"I've Got a Little List" and "Lady Novelists"

On Sunday, Eugene and I spent an afternoon at the opera. We saw The Mikado at the Lyric Opera in Chicago. I've seen a film version and heard the songs before; Eugene wasn't familiar with it at all. It was a good production; we enjoyed some of the little touches (for example, the stage had a fountain in the first act, and jets of water were timed to spout up at key moments) and the reference to "Skokie," one of the Chicago suburbs, as a faraway land where the prince had gone.

Since I knew the songs, I was listening hard to see what they did with the song, "As Some Day If Should Happen..." This is the song in which Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner, talks about the "little list" he keeps "of society offenders who might well be underground" in case he actually needs to execute someone. One of the people on this list is a lady novelist. Sometimes the lyrics of this song are changed to reflect more contemporary types of society offenders. I wanted to see if this particular line was changed or not. This production stuck to the original lyrics and kept the line. I shook my finger at the stage in mock protest.

The reason Gilbert and Sullivan included this line (besides the rhyme it provided) was to mock women authors who wrote light-hearted romances. In fact, George Eliot used a male pseudonym to escape this stereotype. Obviously, women write in many genres these days. Do you feel there are still stereotypes about women writers these days? If so, what are they?


Angela said...

I think there are reasons many women write light hearted romances. People like me like to read them because they make us smile.

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

I've never been much of a romance reader myself, Angela, but I know many women enjoy them.

Maria Zannini said...

The stigma of the woman romance writer is alive and well. I imagine it's because people are stuck on the notion that all romance novels are bodice rippers. It amazes me how many people blindly insult the genre and the authors without EVER having to have read a romance novel.

The gamut of what comprises romance is vast and some are just as complex as Clancy or as engaging as Patterson.

Unless whatever it is they read contain no relationships at all, I can't imagine what constitutes their perceived objections.

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