Saturday, 24 June 2017

Heroes Change

When Miriam Abrams Flandry returns to Terra in a luxury space liner, she could have sex with other passengers but:

"She'd rather wait for Dominic. The fact that he had probably not been waiting for her, in that sense, made no difference."
-Poul Anderson, The Game Of Empire, Chapter Twelve, p. 317 IN Anderson, Flandry's Legacy (New York, 2012).

Earlier in the Technic History, David Falkayn spent time with many women but eventually settled down with Coya.

The kind of hero that I used to read about met and married a heroine and remained married to her for the rest of the series: Tarzan/Jane; John Carter/Dejah Thoris. Dornford Yates' characters, reflecting the realities of their author's life, experienced a few bereavements or divorces between novels. Then James Bond had a different heroine in every novel - and also an odd attitude to women.

SM Stirling's Rudi Mackenzie is Wiccan but instantly becomes monogamously faithful to his Christian fiancee, not sharing but respecting her sexual morality. 

Human beings are not naturally monogamous. We do not all:

reach marriageable age;
instantly pair off with a life-long partner of the opposite sex;
never feel attracted to anyone else.

Anderson imagined a race that was like this. See here.

In human history, patriarchal monogamy was about identifying legitimate male heirs to inherit property and therefore was not, in my opinion, "...an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man's innocency..." (see here)

16 comments:

  1. Human's aren't absolutely monogamous but it's the commonest form of pair-bonding for children. Also it's so restful...

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  2. Kaor, Paul!

    I have to disagree with you and stand by what Our Lord said about marriage in the gospels. But, the problem is I don't think many marriages these days are even VALID in the eyes of Catholic canon law. That is, I read many years ago about how one canonist doubted many marriages these days are valid, due to defective INTENT of various kinds.

    Btw, the Baen Books cover for FLANDRY'S LEGACY is the only one of their covers for the books collecting the later Technic Civilization stories I like. I rather like how Flandry is shown as seated, aging, and pensive. And I assume the young lady standing next to him is his daughter Diana.

    Sean

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    1. Sean,
      I have thought that many marriages cannot be canonically valid. All that people are concerned about is that a particular ceremony, whether ecclesiastical or civil, makes them legally married.
      Paul.

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    2. Kaor, Paul!

      Too true! Iow, all that matters to many these days is the FORM of the marriage.

      Sean

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  3. There was a very long period in Europe -- ending only in the 19th century in many places -- where the Catholic (and Protestant) concept of marriage as being a product of an official religious ceremony existed alongside the folk-concept, whereby marriage existed because the people "did married things". That is, they announced their intention to form a married couple, had the necessary community agreement that this was legitimate (which might involve a number of things, including exchange of property and the blessing of the respective parents), and then cohabited.

    For most people for a very long time, it was the public betrothal that was most important; the church wedding sort of confirmed it but wasn't absolutely necessary to public opinion. The Church, naturally enough, worked hard over a very long period to change this attitude.

    The belief that the ceremony at the altar was the essence of the marriage started at the top of society -- where legitimacy was most important for dynastic reasons, where the amount of property and political power at stake was greatest, and where contact with the clergy was closest -- and gradually filtered down the social scale and out into the most remote regions.

    Many parts of nominally Christian Europe had startlingly little contact with the religion in its formal, institutional sense -- there were whole countries where a regular parish clergy wasn't common, for example, and areas like that within the British Isles down to the modern period. In places like that vaguely understood Christian doctrine was thoroughly mixed with a sort of sub-pagan folk-religion of all sorts of ghoulies and ghosties and long-legged beasties and there might not even be a regular recourse to the big Christian rites of passage like baptism.

    During the Reformation, a Protestant clergyman visited the lawless Border country between Scotland and England and went into Liddesdale (the most notorious nest of feudists and reavers even by Border standards) to see whether the people there were Catholics or had gone over to the new faith.

    He found not one single functioning church in Liddesdale (where thousands lived). There were some ruins, but apparently there hadn't been a cleric of any sort there for generations and nobody had any real understanding of what the Catholic-Protestant schism was about, and mostly they didn't give a damn.

    He burst out: "Are there no -Christians- in this valley?"

    A local looked at him and said: "Nae. We is a' Elliots and Armstrangs hereaboots."

    Mind you, they believed in God and that Jesus was His son. The problem is that they believed in pookas and gruachs and redcaps and the Unselie Court just as much, and invoked them about as often.

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    1. Mr Stirling,

      I grew up in Penrith, Cumberland. When we got a local Independent Television (ITV) station, it was called "Border Television." More recently, visiting a gift shop in the Lake District, I was served by a man with a Scottish accent. When I remarked that he was not local, he replied, "All this belonged to Scotland years ago!"

      That Chistian-Pagan mix is the background of Anderson's THE MERMAN'S CHILDREN and A MIDSUMMER TEMPEST.

      Paul.

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    2. Dear Mr. Stirling,

      Yes, I agree it took a LONG time in some parts of Europe for Christianity to really "filter" down the social scale to the most remote regions. We see that in some of Anderson's works, like the books cited by Paul. I would include THE LAST VIKING as well.

      Your first paragraph reminded me of what is now called "common law" marriage. It probably descended from the situation you described.

      Sean

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    3. in the 20th century, a Catholic curate in the West of Ireland said that people in his parish simultaneously held three contradictory beliefs about the hereafter: Catholic, pagan and secularist.

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    4. Kaor, Paul!

      And we can expect similar mish mashes of religious and philosophical ideas on both the remoter planets Technic Civilization and on real world colonial planets (I hope!) of the future.

      Sean

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    5. Sean: yeah, that's the source of "common-law" marriage; it incorporates very, very old custom.

      Incidentally, this is the legal source of "suit for breach of contract/promise", that is, refusal by a man to marry after a public betrothal. it was traditional for sexual relations among the common people to begin after the betrothal, not the marriage proper, so breach of contract was extremely serious business.

      It's also the source of the curious custom of "wife-selling" that you find in Thomas Hardy's novels. This wasn't a literal sale of the woman; it was invariably done with her consent, to someone she picked. It was a form of folk-divorce, whereby the previous husband publicly renounced his rights and the connection for consideration. The Victorian gentry and clergy tried very hard to stamp it out, and succeeded by the end of the 19th century.

      The period from the 1850's through say about 1950 was probably the apogee of strict, formal marriage customs in Britain.

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    6. Dear Mr. Stirling,

      Again, thanks for very interesting comments. I've heard of Thomas Hardy, but never read any of his novels. And I had not heard of the "wife selling" as a kind of divorce. IF we have to have divorce, better to do it formally and thru the courts.

      Sean

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  4. In "The Sorrow of Odin the Goth" it's pointed out that "Carl" can't really marry Jorith because he has no acknowledged kin to take part in the negotiations, but there's a less formal type of marriage that's available.

    Incidentally, Romans had a similar setup. There was a very old, extremely strict sort of marriage with religious rituals under which the wife passed into the 'hand' of the husband. By late Republican times only a few very old-fashioned patrician families used it -- most people used a much less formal rite, which involved the wife deliberately spending a brief symbolic period absent from the husband's household once a year so that she remained legally more or less independent.

    (Roman women had a surprisingly high legal and social status by the standards of the Classical Mediterranean world, much higher than in say Athens. Though Athens was extremely patriarchal even by ancient Greek standards; Macedon or Sparta were quite different.

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    1. Dear Mr. Stirling,

      I had known of the two types of marriage the Romans practice, an "indissoluble" form largely used by old fashioned patricians and a less strict rite.

      Yes, compared to most other societies around the Mediterranean, Roman women had a very high social and legal status. So much so I still remember Juvenal's excruciatingly funny diatribe called "Against Women" in his SATIRES.

      I think you were saying women had a higher status in Sparta and Macedon than in Athens?

      Sean

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  5. Poul -really knew his stuff-. His research was vast but not ostentatious; he was very good at seamlessly incorporating it into the story. He read my ISLAND IN THE SEA OF TIME in manuscript and made some very kind comments about it; in the same letter, he pointed out one minor mistake I'd made (about early European weaving and looms), just offhand. I was extremely impressed, and I miss corresponding with him which was both an honor and great fun.

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    1. Mr Stirling,
      This is precisely the kind of information that sf fans like to read so thank you for sharing it here.
      Paul.

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    2. Dear Mr. Stirling,

      I absolutely agree with what you said about PA's skill in doing research and his sheer depth of knowledge! I too had the honor of corresponding with him and wish I could have done so one or two more times before Anderson died.

      My occasional essays in this blog is one means of "corresponding" with Poul Anderson. My latest article, "The Toughest Story Written By Poul Anderson" is about one of his most difficult stories, "Night Piece." How might PA have responded?

      Sean

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