Novels Are Read. Violence, It Grew

Violence has always been part of literature, as it has always been part of life, but in recent decades authors have often depicted killings and other kinds of bodily harm more graphically than their writing predecessors did.

As with sexual situations, violence used to be significantly veiled in older fiction. Brutal acts would frequently happen “off stage,” or be shown in a not-too-bloody way. That sanitized carnage could still be very upsetting to read about, but most readers didn’t lose their appetites. These days, things in general are usually less subtle and more “out there.”

This was reinforced for me with the last two novels I read: Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley’s Game (1974) and Anthony Burgess’ The Kingdom of the Wicked (1985) — both written after violence in lit started to be depicted more explicitly.

In Highsmith’s novel — one of five psychological thrillers, including The Talented Mr. Ripley, starring the rather amoral Tom Ripley — murders of various Mafiaso are chronicled kind of graphically (such as strangulation with a cord, aka garroting). Interestingly, the retaliatory shooting of a sympathetic co-protagonist is described in a more euphemistic way.

The Kingdom of the Wicked — which chronicles all kinds of intrigue during the early years of Christianity two millennia ago — has myriad scenes of revolting violence (crucifixion, stoning to death, stabbings, etc.) amid the wonderful writing.

A living-author king of violence depiction is Cormac McCarthy, who has a high mayhem quotient in novels such as Blood Meridian (1985), No Country for Old Men (2005), and, to a lesser degree, All the Pretty Horses (1992). Blood Meridian may be one of the most violent literary novels ever written, but, then again, the 19th-century American West was often a brutal place that earlier authors had to sanitize to some extent when published in less-candid times.

In Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things (1997), a brutal law-enforcement murder of a likable, admirable “Untouchable” is heartbreakingly depicted. As intensely painful as it is to read, vividly showing the power structure’s violence against minorities gives readers a small sense of what the discriminated-against go through.

And how about the nightmare injuries Annie Wilkes inflicts on captive author Paul Sheldon in Stephen King’s Misery (1987)? And the excruciating Afghanistan-based scene in which Taliban guy Assef breaks several of Amir’s bones in Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner (2003)? And various horrific deaths in Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy (2008-2010)?

There’s also plenty of hard-hitting harm in Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series, with Reacher receiving and doling out violence — and a number of good and bad people dying along the way. (Think “pink mist” rising from heads exploded by bullets — yikes!) One can’t read the 20 Reacher novels (1997-2015) without getting a major adrenaline rush, for better or for worse.

What are some of the most violent novels you’ve read? Do you think reality demands that acts of bodily harm be depicted in a fairly graphic way, or do you prefer a certain amount of author restraint?

(The box for submitting comments is below already-posted comments, but your new comment will appear at the top of the comments area — unless you’re replying to someone else.)

I’ve finished and am now rewriting/polishing a book called Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Writers, but am still selling Comic (and Column) Confessional — my often-funny memoir that recalls 25 years of covering and meeting cartoonists such as Charles Schulz (“Peanuts”) and Bill Watterson (“Calvin and Hobbes”), columnists such as “Dear Abby” and Ann Landers, and other notables such as Coretta Scott King, Walter Cronkite, and various authors. The book also talks about the malpractice death of my first daughter, my remarriage, and life in Montclair, N.J. — where I write the award-winning weekly “Montclairvoyant” humor column for The Montclair Times. You can email me at to buy a discounted, inscribed copy of the book, which contains a preface by “Hints” columnist Heloise and back-cover blurbs by people such as “The Far Side” cartoonist Gary Larson.

149 thoughts on “Novels Are Read. Violence, It Grew

  1. (Spoiler) I’ve never read “Oliver Twist” but the brutal murder of Nancy in that novel was arguably the most infamous scene in all of Dickens’ works. I read that it was Dickens’ favorite scene when he read his writings in public.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ( Spoiler alert) Some 19th Century novels have scenes of rather graphic violence, I don’t remember the exact details but “A Tale of Two Cities” had a scene where the revolutionary mob killed the guards at the Bastille in a rather gruesome manner. Charles Kingsley’s little known historical novel “Hypatia” had the title character torn limb from limb by her enemies at the climax of the novel.

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  3. Pingback: Violence and Gore in Writing: Is There a Limit? – J.J. Azar

  4. Great post, Dave. These days, I tend to shy away from violent novels preferring, instead, cozy murder mysteries where the violence and mayhem occur ‘off stage’. McCarthy’s ‘No Country For Old Men’ pretty much put me off the genre of violence for good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hear you, Jack. There’s something to be said for cozy mysteries, in which the emphasis on the mystery doesn’t get lost a bit amid explicit carnage.

      Yes, “No Country for Old Men” was a stomach-turner. Not one of my favorite Cormac McCarthy novels, though it had some compelling moments (besides the violent moments).

      Thanks for commenting (and for the kind words)!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Dave,

    Just quickly on last week’s topic, I must admit that I’m *almost* sick of all the Trump hating. When the media constantly bombards me with how bad something is, I can’t help but think that the information must be prejudiced, and there must be another side. And while I know that Trump has no sides that aren’t as vile and repulsive as everything else that we’ve already seen, I am so sick of all the negativity. The Democrats hate Trump, and the Republicans hate Clinton, and The Donald hates everybody. At the start of 2016 I was actually kind of excited to learn about American elections. Now I can’t wait for it to be over. At least it’s only one more month. 28th November, right? I’m sure that’s when Don said the election was…

    On to happier topics – violence! I vaguely remember trying to read one of the Hannibal Lecter books with my eyes closed, much as one does when watching a movie that they can’t quite stomach. But while Thomas Harris had some pretty violent scenes, if we’re talking modern, no-longer-have-to-censor-it violence, I can’t go past George R. R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” series. Nobody is safe in those novels. And it’s not the nice and clean bang, bang you’re dead kind of violence. There’s beheadings, and rapes, and people getting all of their bits chopped off. But you know, only in a fun, entertaining, completely enthralling kind of way!

    Liked by 1 person

    • “On to happier topics – violence!” — SO funny, Susan, as was the last line of the part of your comment about “Song of Ice and Fire,” and some of your other lines. I still haven’t read any of George R.R. Martin’s series, but I’ve heard plenty about it not being for the fainthearted. And Hannibal Lecter…yikes!

      As for Trump, much of the media IS slanted against him, but I guess this is one of those cases where it’s kind of understandable. Sort of makes one think about whether it would have made a difference if the German press took Hitler more seriously and covered him more negatively before he gained power. Not that The Donald is THAT bad.

      And, as you alluded to, Hillary has huge negatives, too, amid her positives. Meanwhile, admirable Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein — who’s like Bernie Sanders in certain ways — is practically ignored by the mainstream media.

      I also can’t wait until the election is over on Nov. 38 or 48 or whenever…


      • Jill Stein, and I devoutly wish I could believe other wise, is ‘lightning bug’ to Bernie’s ‘lightning, to employ Mark Twain’s formulation.

        I think her heart may well be in the right place, but I don’t think she has any workable ideas as to how she might achieve her objectives.

        Also– I have heard her rap. And sing. Wish she hadn’t. Wish I hadn’t.

        I certainly can agree on this one point: “I also can’t wait until the election is over…”

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’ll kind of politely disagree here and say Jill Stein does have workable ideas on the environment, social justice, health care, (reducing) military spending, etc. But they are ideas workable in more social-democratic countries. If Stein miraculously became U.S. president, the media and Congress and “the permanent government” of Big Business would thwart her at every turn.

          I haven’t heard her sing (laughed at your line about that!), but have seen many clips of her and she comes off as much more genuine than the disgusting Trump and the programmed, triangulating Clinton. During the three debates, Hillary seemed entirely genuine only a couple times, when she was talking about women’s-rights issues. But I do admire her intellect, “hardworking-ness,” experience, and resilience. Unfortunately, if at least the House remains Republican, it will try to thwart her at every turn as much as it would have thwarted Stein.

          Liked by 1 person

          • That’s part of my problem with Stein: “they are ideas workable in more social-democratic countries.” I would prefer to live in such a place, would prefer to live here were the US such a place, but I’m living in the US as it is, a place wherein at least 30% of the voting public are entirely comfortable with voting for a proto-fascist.

            I do agree that the House, at the very least, if it remains in the hands of the GOP, as it is likely to do, will throw at HRC investigation, obstruction, impeachment and parliamentary trickery at every conceivable opportunity, and at a few inconceivable opportunities as well.

            I have long ago retired, more than thrice burned over my lifetime, from thinking I could gauge the sincerity or genuineness of politicians from my vantage point, as so much of it seems contingent and mutable according circumstance– if a politician manages to acquire actual, and not aspirational political power. I try hard to judge whether or not the pol in question has a chance to win, and after, to get things done I hope to see happen.

            I hope for true income equality for women and minorities, and the practical fellow in me has concluded HRC represents the best chance for now at least in setting the nation on the road to that goal.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Dave, in keeping with the sense of this discussion,”I will politely disagree with you” on Stein. She and the Green Party do have some very good ideas which we can totally agree on. My problem with them is that they put up a candidate for president every four years, yet seem to do nothing to put up and win any local offices. They therefore have no infrastructure or grassroots to accomplish anything (not to mention the fact that very few people I know have even heard of her or them). Then of course there is the fact Dr. Stein has, as far as I know, even less experience than Trump at running anything and certainly way less knowledge of foreign policy and the leaders than Hillary. I’m an aging baby-boomer feminist that can relate more to Hillary than anyone else. She’s been working her entire adult life for children’s and families’ rights. I’m afraid I agree with some who say that a vote for Stein or Gary Johnson is a vote for Trump, and I believe Hillary may need all the votes she can get whether in a blue or red state.

            By the way, jhNJ was correct about Stein’s horrible rap and singing! 🙂

            Liked by 2 people

            • Thanks, Kat Lib and jhNY! (And sorry, jhNY, to have taken so long to answer your comment — it didn’t show up in my email notifications for some reason.)

              True — the U.S. is about the least social-democratic country of all the western democracies. A real shame. If Trump had any chance of winning NJ, I definitely would vote for Clinton, but I think Hillary will slaughter Trump in my state.

              It would be nice if Jill Stein won at least 5% of the nationwide vote in order for the Green Party to get federal funding the next go-around.

              Clinton is indeed the more realistic choice. I guess I’ve lived long enough to be kind of tired of voting for “the lesser of two evils” than for who I want to enthusiastically vote for.

              True, Kat Lib, the Green Party focuses too much on presidential elections. It needs to take more of a start-from-the-bottom approach. But the GP does run SOME other candidates for “lower” office.

              Yes, Jill Stein is inexperienced as a politician (though Wikipedia says she “is a former elected member of the Lexington Town Meeting, the local legislative body in Lexington, Massachusetts. She was elected to two three-year terms.” Small potatoes, I know.) At least Stein was a doctor — a helping profession, unlike the havoc Trump has wreaked as a developer, etc.

              Anyway, we can agree to disagree. 🙂

              Perhaps Stein can at least sing better than Bob Dylan? 🙂 🙂


          • Cough, cough…what did I miss ?

            I looked at that forbidden place, this morning there was not so positive article on Jill Stein not it has disappeared.
            So she sings, can you post her music Dave ?

            Liked by 1 person

                  • Okay, I’ll throw my opinion in there for what it’s worth. She’s a competent bongo (actually, they look like congas) player, at least good enough to participate in some drumming circles, and I speak from experience there, having attended several over the years. Guitar playing is generic and competent; however, Dylan’s guitar playing is generic and competent. No one has ever praised him as a musician. And, while she’s not a great singer by any means, she is more tolerable than the current Dylan. Today he sounds like a mumbling, asthmatic munchkin. Forty to fifty years ago he was much more expressive with a song in his non-singing, unique Dylan way. Unfortunately, I can’t say much for Dylan these days. I haven’t been impressed by any of his songs since the mid-70’s and his voice has steadily deteriorated. However, I would be willing to bet that Jill could never write songs on the level of “Like a Rolling Stone”, “Gates of Eden”, “Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall” or the hundreds of other great songs that he wrote, all of which were done 40 or more years ago. I realized that no one asked me so take that or leave it.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Well said, Brian! I think your analysis of Jill Stein’s musical abilities is quite fair, as is your take on Bob Dylan. Certainly age and decades of touring have taken a toll on Dylan’s never-great voice, and one wonders if he almost deliberately sounds almost incoherent out of sheer disdain or apathy or something. He probably needs to give fewer concerts to keep up whatever enthusiasm he still has.

                      “…a mumbling, asthmatic munchkin” — LOL!!!


                    • Guess I’ll do it then– Bob Dylan is a plenty-good acoustic guitar player, of the old time, folk and blues variety. He can perform effectively on the instrument and a self-accompanist. Better players are for hire, and whenever the music calls for them, there they are. The hard truth, at least for me, who has labored for many years to be one of the ‘better players’, is that they can be had, at this point in the history of the guitar’s popularity, nearly any place and any time– especially those who Dylan would hire– folks who have immersed themselves in traditional accompaniment styles.

                      What’s rare, and thin on the ground the world over, are visionary song writers.

                      Singers? I speak as a person who several times over his lifetime has been the lead singer of a band, featured in commercials (long ago), and a solo performer– not hard to find either– those who would out-sing Dylan (easy) and Jill Stein (easy also). What’s hard to find? Somebody who can deliver the meaning and emotional nuances of a song intact, maybe even enhancing the possibilities of the song by the power of performance. Dylan has done that, will do it, on a good day anyway, in future.

                      Life is long, art is short, to flip the old saying on its back. The lifelong career for so many in the arts, has produced more product than excellence. Only a very few can do magic as long as they are intent to be in the limelight. Nearly always, there is a period in which the artists does his best work. It’s nearly always shorter than the career. But even so, once in a while, even an old dog’s trick can impress, even as the old voice cracks. Dylan may miss nearly every time these days, as compared to 1966, but if he pens one more that rings true, we’re all the richer for it.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Unfortunately, I don’t think the voice will ever return. Better voices than his have deteriorated but such are the ravages of age. They’ll never be what they were in their prime but what choice do they have? They COULD retire I suppose but as long as there’s a desire to keep doing what you love, why stop even if you’re no longer going to be at your peak? Can you cite even one song that Bob’s written since around 1976 that could even come close to being as brilliant as the best stuff from his 60’s output? Even more surprising would be if there was even ONE example of a live performance from this year, last year, even ten years ago, that could also measure up to something he might have done decades ago. I agree with Dave that Bob’s attitude certainly doesn’t win him likeability points and I’m mystified as to why he continues to do what he’s doing (subpar performance, singing, writing) and STILL be lauded as a genius. I think the music critic’s establishment has cannonized him and they’re willing to cut him miles of slack while they trash and burn far more brilliant performers for their less than stellar performances. I think he’ll continue to perform because, hey, it’s something to do, he’s still raking in money, and he can do and say whatever the hell he wants because he’s golden in the eyes of the critical establishment.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • VERY eloquent sum-up of Dylan, jhNY. You, having a musical background, can analyze him from the inside, in a sense. But your comment would be persuasive even if you didn’t have that background.

                      Still, I guess I’m just a middling Dylan fan. Often-amazing lyricist, adequate guitarist (to my ear, as an amateur strummer/picker who no longer plays), mediocre vocalist (yes, very expressive voice in its better moments), and an off-putting personality.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Thanks, bobess48! You make some great points.

                      I haven’t followed Dylan’s music closely since the mid-1970s, so he may have done some excellent stuff since then that I’m not aware of. Certainly, many musicians of his generation don’t get much radio play for their newer material, while their older songs get played ad nauseam on certain classical rock stations.

                      Still, some musicians/bands (such as U2 and Rush) come to mind more than Dylan for continuing to make interesting NEW music over two, three, four, or even five decades.

                      Dylan’s endless concert touring does seem like overkill, but, as you say, the money is good and his audience is there. (Heck, my Dylan-fan wife saw him a few years ago and said the concert was rather awful but was still glad she went.)

                      Yes, his voice is pretty much shot (all those concerts don’t help, plus being in his 70s). Yes again, once someone is anointed a genius (and Dylan IS a genius in his way) they’re often considered a genius for life. Nice designation if you can get it… 🙂


            • bebe, I think you’re probably referring to the article on “The Daily Beast” yesterday about Stein’s investment portfolio. It is still there if you google Jill Stein. She is of course fighting back as she seems to believe no one knows what’s in their portfolios; however, I know that 83% of my 401k is in a cash fund and government bonds. It’s not that difficult if one really cares to track this info.

              Sorry, Dave. I really wasn’t going to mention this as I respect you more than just about anyone I know (even if only in an internet forum). So we can continue to “agree to disagree” and I’ll continue to support and vote for Hillary. I picked up my Clinton/Kaine sign the other day from Dem headquarters and so far it hasn’t been stolen or vandalized.

              On a happier, less controversial note, I learned today that where I live does allow one to keep chickens (4 at most) with various rules and regulations. I’m already trying to plan how much I need to expand my fencing, order a coop and run, and how much it’s going to cost me. The chickens themselves are fairly inexpensive, although I know it will take a lot of eggs to get a return on investment, especially since my sister has already put in a request for a dozen eggs per month! 🙂

              Liked by 2 people

              • Thanks, Kat Lib!

                You are to be commended for knowing what’s in your 401k portfolio. I only had a vague idea what mine was invested in when I was working full-time. Now it’s moot, because I had to cash it in a few years ago to survive financially after I was laid off. Definitely a tax bite for doing that before “retirement age.”

                Great that you got that sign! I know MANY people voting the (alliterative) Clinton/Kaine ticket, and we’re all still friends. 🙂

                Also great that you can get up to four chickens if you want! LOL…your sister’s pre-chickens egg request!


                • Thanks, bebe! It IS a bit hypocritical and disappointing that Jill Stein has investments in the stocks of some awful companies that go against the stands she takes.

                  She did say in the story: “Like many Americans who hold retirement accounts, pension funds, or who invest in the American economy, my finances are largely held in index funds or mutual funds over which I have no control in management or decision-making.”

                  But the article notes that she still could have invested elsewhere.

                  I’m hoping The Daily Beast has been fair and also done at least one positive large story about Stein. Don’t know if it has.

                  Liked by 1 person

      • You’re absolutely right, jhNY — the corporate media (TV, newspapers, etc.) gave Trump a mammoth amount of free publicity. Great for ratings and circulation, decency be damned. Much of the corporate media did “turn” on Trump, but, as you alluded to, way too late. They really can’t be forgiven, in my opinion, though I realize the vile Trump can of course be a fascinating figure.

        A big part of his “appeal” is his willingness to say almost anything, which makes him, unlike typical politicians, seem like a straight shooter. Yet someone who lies all the time is obviously not a straight shooter. Just the illusion of “telling it like it is”…


        • I can almost hear the Trump supporters saying, “yeah, he lies, but at least he’s upfront about it”! Sadly, Jill Stein hasn’t quite made it to mainstream news over here in Oz, so I can’t comment on her policies, or lack of same, but I know she’s not Trump, so she has that going for her. Dave, I completely agree that the media should be slanted against Trump. And maybe he’s not quite as bad as Hitler, but then neither was Hitler when the power was first handed to him. It’s just that it’s on EVERYTHING. Especially social media. No matter the topic, eventually there will be a comment calling Trump a racist misogynist. Which of course he is, but if he’s that bad, then surely we have to question why he has so much power, and so much airtime? I don’t know, maybe I’m just completely over it because our elections only run for a month or two. Maybe I’m still scratching my head, completely baffled about why Obama can’t have another turn? I appreciate you both sharing your opinion 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • Ha, Susan! Yet Trump denies that he lies (which is another lie 🙂 ).

            Jill Stein barely gets any coverage in the U.S. mainstream media, either, but fortunately I see lots of stuff about her linked on my Facebook feed. I’m impressed.

            I guess Trump gets so much airtime and other coverage because his being ultra-provocative in his awful way is good for ratings and thus good for media profits.

            Your elections lasting just a month or two is so much more civilized than what America does!

            After Franklin Roosevelt was elected president four times in a row (1932, 1936, 1940, 1944), a constitutional amendment was passed forbidding more than two terms.

            Thanks for the comment!


            • Largely passed thanks to efforts of the GOP, which, as a party nearly immediately regretted they had done so, after the election of Dwight D. Eisenhower (who probably didn’t have a healthy enough heart to have made it through a 3rd term). They regretted it again after the 2nd term of Ronaldus Maximus, (who didn’t have the mental capacity to have made it through a 3rd term)..

              Liked by 1 person

              • Interesting, jhNY. Partisan politics can definitely bring blowback to the party doing the “partisaning.” But, yes, Eisenhower wasn’t in the best of health, and Reagan probably already had Alzheimer’s in his second term. Of course, the Republicans missed out on the chance for a third term for George W. — ha ha!


          • It’s now become more than a car crash (blazing inferno, perhaps?) what with the actions of FBI Director Comey on Friday by injecting politics into an election which may help to bring about a Trump presidency. What a mess he has caused, which appears to be just doing a CYA move to protect his own job. I can only hope that this will somehow get resolved before the election; if not, I hope it gets out more Hillary voters who may have already decided to sit out the election. It’s also unfair to do this after people have already been voting in states that allow early balloting.

            I met one of my girlfriends for lunch yesterday, and I was telling her about my great plans to raise a few chickens. She wasn’t very encouraging, mostly because of all my physical limitations. I hadn’t been to the restaurant we went to for quite awhile, but it’s a great place called “Harvest,” which serves many great dishes with mostly local farm and seasonal foods. Of course, it’s a little pricey, but most restaurants seem to be these days.

            Speaking of my physical limitations, my latest one is that I had another fall a few weeks ago. I’ve been blaming it on my dog Willow, as she was going around me in circles and entangling me in her leash. This happened on our asphalt street, and I tried to break my fall with my right hand. I’ve since learned how to keep her on a shorter leash; however I just learned the other day after an x-ray that there is a crack in the main hand bone. I see an ortho specialist tomorrow and am hoping this won’t require another surgery.

            I’m looking forward to your new post this evening!

            Liked by 1 person

            • So sorry about your fall and your hand injury, Kat Lib. I thought your run of bad luck had ended. 😦 I really hope you won’t need surgery. A downside of dogs, yet they’re still absolutely fantastic pets.

              I agree — the FBI director is a disgrace, as was his action. Hillary definitely did wrong with the emails, but Comey doing what he did 11 days before the election?? And I’m unclear about the whole thing — this involves emails on Anthony Weiner’s computer, not on Hillary’s server?

              The two people with chickens who I know in my town say it’s a wonderful thing but not an easy thing.

              Yes, it’s hard these days to find a decent restaurant that’s inexpensive.


  6. Willi Heinrich’s “Cross of Iron” (which I read when I was too young to have been exposed to its contents) was a harrowing, cynical work of fiction with a number of violent scenes involving firefights, rape, pillage, and layers of personal betrayal and blackmail.

    But then, as it concerned itself with the doings of German soldiers on the Russian front, that should not entirely surprise.

    Pekinpah made a movie of it– his only war film.

    The novel was originally published in Germany in 1957.

    Perhaps the exposure to such events in real life, as experienced by so many in that world conflagration, helped later to propel such graphic stuff into the realm of art. After all, more people were killed in war in the last century than in any other. And so many survivors witnessed horror up close.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jhNY, great point about how being exposed to war (as a soldier, civilian, journalist, etc.) can influence an author’s writing and how he or she depicts violence. That’s apparent in certain works by Stendhal (one of your favorites), Erich Maria Remarque, Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, Norman Mailer, Elsa Morante, and many other writers.

      And, yes, the extent of the carnage during the World War II period was almost unimaginable.


      • Excuse me if I’ve written in on this topic previously (I don’t remember if I have or not), but below is what I consider to be one of the great losses in the discipline of history and in literature:

        Stendahl was actually in Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow– the Russians, rather than let the French get at it, burned much of the city, forcing Napoleon’s forces to retreat, and without fresh supplies. Stendahl was attached to the general staff, and had made a journal of his observations and doings of the campaign that he said was fairly large by the time of the debacle. Like nearly everything else he owned, that journal was lost when the staff’s baggage train was abandoned in no small haste, and has never been seen again.

        According to wikipedia:
        “Stendhal witnessed the burning of Moscow from just outside the city. Stendhal was appointed Commissioner of War Supplies and sent to Smolensk to prepare provisions for the returning army. He crossed the Berezina River by finding a usable ford rather than the overwhelmed pontoon bridge, which probably saved his life and those of his companions. Stendhal arrived in Paris in 1813, largely unaware of the general fiasco that the retreat had become. Stendhal became known, during the Russian campaign, for keeping his wits about him, and maintaining his “sang-froid and clear-headedness.” He also maintained his daily routine, shaving each day during the retreat from Moscow.”

        Given his facility in writing scenes of action and capturing the tumult and confusion of battle, he would have been an ideal observer and recorder on scene. So far as I know, he never attempted, much less published or made a manuscript describing his own experiences during the Russian campaign.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Bobess48 has mentioned examples out of ancient Greece, and Shakespeare, so I will mention another example that falls, timewise, betwixt: “The Song of Roland”. It’s an 8th Century saga and features what I assume is hyperbolic violence, unless it really was possible for a man with a sword to cleave an adversary in half, longwise.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great conversation about a intriguing topic. I prefer my violence and sex somewhat less that graphic. I like enough detail to know what is happening but not every gory image. I think showing the aftermath is often more effective. I don’t recall the name of the film, but I seem to recall a slave being lashed to the whipping post. The camera then focuses on the faces of the witnesses as we hear screams. Then we see the severely injured and profusely bleeding slave receiving medical assistance from another slave. My imagination was able to fill in all the blanks.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, energywriter!

      I hear you — I also usually prefer that violence not be depicted in an over-the-top way (while acknowledging that sometimes it’s good to show violence graphically to emphasize just how evilly some people behave). Yes, showing the aftermath can convey a LOT.

      I wonder if the film you’re thinking of is “12 Years a Slave”? I’m remembering that movie having such a scene — which, for the reasons you stated, was absolutely horrific while handled somewhat delicately in terms of what could be seen.


  9. Had seen the film ” A Clockwork Orange” by Stanley Kubrick based on the Anthony Burgess novel when I was in a college film class at NYIT . A fellow classmate actually walked out as it was VERY violent. I still remember it, the nose knows. Not a Pinocchio tale by Walt Disney let me tell you. But many times its in context to the stories told and we all cannot live in a fairy tale world, a Leave It To Beaver existence.

    Violence shows up in many ways,” Les Miserables” I had seen the musical years ago based on Victor Hugo book during the French Revolution and ..spoiler alert, everyone dies, even, what little I remember, Gavroche, the street urchin youngster. Depressing I must say but its a brutal battle during a specific time of history. No breaking out to a soft shoe on this musical.

    But one choses to see for the history, just like the critically acclaimed musical “Hamilton” which I may never see but I did watch the PBS program and it was quite good. I read the Ron Chernow door stopper novel at 818 pages based on the musical and its first rate. I am a big fan of Lin Manual Miranda, he is a genius to combine history with hip hop, R&B, making the story contemporary, and more importantly, bringing people together to appreciate our history and wanting to understand, learn more about our Founding Fathers. Without them we would not have the best country in the world, America.

    “Roots” by Alex Haley, any books on slavery, the Holocaust, brutal stories that need to be told, seemingly, sadly, more and more in these turbulent, violent times we live in are a part of the reality of life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, “A Clockwork Orange” was a very violent movie — made a person quite queasy watching it. Definitely not Walt Disney — though some Disney films do have intense content. I’m thinking Burgess’ “Clockwork Orange” novel was just as shocking (I read it a long time ago), but readers could only see that violence in their mind’s eye.

      You’re right that “Les Miserables” was very intense as well. At least some 19th-century novels didn’t pull too many punches.

      I haven’t seen “Hamilton” or the PBS program you mentioned, but that mega-hit musical seems like an amazing creation. Someone I know saw it this month (long after Lin-Manuel Miranda left the cast), and was VERY impressed.

      And, as you say, any book with a strong slavery theme — Alex Haley’s “Roots,” Octavia Butler’s “Kindred,” Toni Morrison’s “Beloved,” Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” etc. — clearly has unspeakable (white) violence in its very DNA. As with the also-unspeakable Nazi violence in Holocaust novels — William Styron’s “Sophie’s Choice,” Erich Maria Remarque’s “Spark of Life,” etc.

      Thanks, Michele, for your eloquent comment!


      • In the rush to acclaim the musical “Hamilton”, its creators and performers, which I assume may well be justified on artistic grounds, too many are left with the misimpression that the man himself was an inveterate foe of the ‘peculiar institution’.

        He might have been, philosophically. But he owned slaves and even traded them. Interested folks should look it up.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I haven’t seen the play, but, from what I’ve read, Alexander Hamilton was indeed sanitized quite a bit in the musical, jhNY. He and a number of the other founding fathers each had a mix of vision and hypocrisy. (I can never be a total admirer of slave owners such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.) Ironic, provocative, or maybe sweet revenge that the “Hamilton” cast is so multicultural.


          • The person who comes first to my mind as a real hero out of the American Revolution in regards to slavery was Tadeusz Koskciuzko, a Pole:

            from wikipedia:

            “A close friend of Thomas Jefferson, with whom he shared ideals of human rights, Kościuszko wrote a will in 1798 dedicating his American assets to the education and freedom of U.S. slaves. He eventually returned to Europe and lived in Switzerland until his death in 1817. The execution of his will later proved difficult and the funds were never used for the purpose he had intended….

            “Before Kościuszko left for France, he collected his back pay, wrote a will, and entrusted it to Jefferson as executor.Kościuszko and Jefferson had become firm friends by 1797 and thereafter corresponded for twenty years in a spirit of mutual admiration. Jefferson wrote that “He is as pure a son of liberty as I have ever known.” In the will, Kościuszko left his American estate to be sold to buy the freedom of black slaves, including Jefferson’s own, and to educate them for independent life and work.Several years after Kościuszko’s death, Jefferson, aged 77, pleaded inability to act as executor due to age and the numerous legal complexities of the bequest, which was tied up in the courts until 1856….The case of Kościuszko’s American estate went three times to the U.S. Supreme Court.None of the money that Kościuszko had earmarked for the manumission and education of African Americans in the United States was ever used for that purpose.”

            elipses mine…..

            Liked by 1 person

            • Didn’t know that history, jhNY. Amazing. Tadeusz Koskciuzko sounds like a REALLY good guy (and I’m glad a bridge is named after him). As for Thomas Jefferson, his age and complexity excuse is BS. He certainly had the energy to do other late-in-life things, such as founding the University of Virginia when he was 76. TJ was just very into slavery. 😦


              • He was a confounding, though not in this regard a unique sort of personality, Jefferson, and I do think he sincerely hated the institution, much as we might hate air pollution today as we drive around. I just don’t think he could conceive of a working plantation (much less a profitable one– see TJ’s intractable financial difficulties) without free labor, as could few of his contemporaries or successors.

                During the Constitutional Convention, at the close of which he became president, Washington defied local Philadelphia law regarding slaves to smuggle a few of his into town so as to have the personal attendance to which he was habituated.

                We started off strange, we Americans, lecturing the world on liberty on one hand while holding the chains of slaves in the other, or maybe that first hand I mentioned was busy shooting Indians, and only the mouth was engaged with the lecture topic. Obviously, the heart was nowhere apparent.

                Liked by 1 person

                • I see your point, but what an immoral “lifestyle” decision Thomas Jefferson made. Maybe he could have freed his slaves, sold his land, and lived a more modest existence. Unfortunately, I attended Thomas Jefferson Junior High School…

                  Of course, TJ was a brilliant Renaissance man, too.

                  Yes, the Founding Fathers had a narrow notion of “liberty and justice for all” and “all men are created equal” (black people excluded, as were less-affluent whites). Not to mention women treated as second-class citizens. The Founding Fathers were “of their time,” yet there were at least some other 18th-century people who had more advanced ideas.


              • I didn’t know much about Kościuszko till late– look him up on wikipedia if you’re interested: a remarkable and fascinating man, and truly a liberator whenever and wherever he could be.

                Liked by 1 person

  10. Romance writers faced a similar issue with love scenes becoming erotica as a norm, but a large enough group of readers didn’t like the trend. They created Sweet and Spicy versions of the same novels, the Sweet version being the PG-13 equivalent.

    Im trying to figure out how to do something similar with my projects, a Young Adult safe PG-13 version of my fantasy novels and a High Octane version for the people who want graphic content. The plots won’t be “watered down,” just no hard R/NC-17 imagery. I believe there’s enough of both demographics to justify splitting book sales numbers (it works for romance writers remember) but I haven’t found anyone else who’s tried this outside of romance.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Glenn! Very interesting comment!

      I’m not much of a romance-novel reader, and didn’t realize there were “safe” and more risqué versions of the same books. If the authors have control of the content (or at least a strong say in it)*, why not?

      Good luck with possibly doing something similar with your fantasy novels!

      * There have been cases where authors, desperate to be published and perhaps badly needing the money, have reluctantly agreed to let timid publishers cut some relatively risqué material important to their books. D.H. Lawrence and “Sons and Lovers” is one example. That’s of course pretty close to censorship, and not a good thing.


  11. Violence was certainly portrayed on stage as early as the Greek tragedies, if not earlier e.g. Oedipus’s eye-gouging scene in ‘Oedipus Rex’. Elizabethan drama was also full of some horrific things going on both on and off stage. Christopher Marlowe’s ‘Tamberlaine’ is full of impaling and dismembering and cannibalism as I recall (I read it over 40 years ago in college so my memory is hazy). Shakespeare also indulges in plenty of violence in his plays. There’s the eye-gouging of Gloustershire in ‘King Lear’ and there’s much more than that in ‘Titus Andronicus’, an early tragedy that I haven’t read although I saw at least one film version. As I recall from the film, a man’s daughter was hung on a pole or something to that effect after her hands (and perhaps feet?) were cut off. The maiming might have extended even beyond that but I just remember that image.

    James Bond’s career almost ended before it had barely begun in Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel, ‘Casino Royale’. Bond is caught by the villain, beaten, stripped and tied to a wicker chair with the seat hollowed out. With him ‘sagging’ below the seat level, the villain takes a carpet beater and whacks him repeatedly until he’s almost unconscious. The next thing Bond recalls is a bullet between his tormenter’s eyes. It seems that Le Chiffre, the beater of the carpet beater, had been embezzling funds from real-life Russian intelligence agency SMERSH to pay his debts, gambling and otherwise. Le Chiffre’s killer then carves the word ‘SMERSH’ on the top of Bond’s hand. Throughout the Fleming series he survives several near death experiences and torture but nothing to the extent of that first book. One of the most faithful of the recent film adaptations, Daniel Craig’s first Bond film, ‘Casino Royale’, had an improvisation on the carpet beater/testicle flogging scene with a giant, thick knotted rope swinging like a pendulum toward the sensitive area. The novel ‘Casino Royale’ was published in 1952, I believe, and none of the Bond films was as realistic in their violence as the Daniel Craig film, so it took about 50 years for the film series to catch up with the books. I’m sure there are far more extreme depictions of violence in much contemporary literature, but that scene in ‘Casino Royale’ is certainly intense enough for me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Terrific point, bobess48, that some long-ago works are quite violent. Even as some modern works are relatively restrained. I guess they’re the (somewhat frequent?) exceptions to the rule.

      And thanks for the fascinating paragraph about “Casino Royale.” Recurring “fight the evildoers” characters such as James Bond — whether they be secret agents, detectives, etc. — almost super-humanly survive everything, yet they often do get majorly, majorly abused along the way.

      Thanks for the vivid comment!


    • bobess, I agree with you about “Casino Royale.” The James Bond movies were my go-to favorites when I was home sick unfortunately, quite a lot because of my asthma). I loved all the gadgets, implausible plots, and especially the exotic locations. The violence seemed more cartoonish than real, which was fine with me. I only watched “Casino Royale” once and found that torture scene to be horrifying, and never watched it again.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I generally prefer a certain amount of author restraint. Violence is a reality of life so I think it should be depicted in fiction and not sugar coated in order to avoid making readers uncomfortable. However, when I get the impression it’s being depicted in excessively graphic detail for the sole purpose of shocking and horrifying the readers, I find that rather off putting. I’m not just bothered by violence towards humans but violence towards animals as well. I found some childrens’ books to be excessively graphic. There were scenes in Where the Red Fern Grows and A Day No Pigs Would Die that still horrify me today when I think about them. In adulthood, aside from the already mentioned Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series, Push, The Kid, The Revenant, Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train are some graphic, violent books that come to mind. The movies based on those books are also graphic and violent.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, bloggymcblogface446! Very well stated!

      Excellent point that graphic violence feels (for want of a better word) “organic” to some “gory” novels and cheap/sensational in other books. It can be hard to explain how readers know which is which, but we kind of sense it.

      And, yes, graphic violence in certain children’s literature is usually not welcome. One wonders how those books got published that way.

      Human violence against animals in literature? Heartbreaking. While not violence per se, the human-caused death of the horse in the mine in “Germinal” haunts me 15 years after I read that Emile Zola novel.


        • I hear you, bobess48. It can be argued that a human death is a much great tragedy than an animal death, but there’s something that gets to me about animals dying (by violence, by a fire, etc.) because they usually have less capability than humans to defend themselves, try to save themselves, etc.


          • So long as the phrase ‘nature, red of tooth and claw’ is apt, at least you’ve got to catch ’em first, and sometimes, the unaware or unlucky might find that even a smallish creature is outfitted well enough to leave at least a mark, if not a bruise, a bite or a wound. Once an animal is caged, the contest is all one-sided, and no contest at all.

            I admit to watching the bulls run in Pamplona from the remove of my teevee. In my defense, I root for the bulls without exception.

            Liked by 1 person

              • My grandfather was an aficianado, but I am happy not to have inherited his interest, though the family does own a four volume and lavish set of tomes on the subject published in Madrid in 1961. My father must have picked it up, and I do know he attended a few bullfights during his time in Spain and Mexico. Nonetheless, I don’t recall him being particularly enthralled by the ‘sport’. He was probably mostly ‘doing as the Romans do’. And as we also own books about Hungarian Renaissance architecture and Hindu temples in America and photographs of China before 1900 and on and on and on and on, possession in and of itself does not prove promotion, or really, anything beyond itself, and for its own sake.

                Liked by 1 person

                • I hear you, jhNY. Some of our interests can indeed be a passed-down-in-the-family thing, or, as you say, “doing as the Romans do.”

                  Bullfighting is brutal, but so is boxing and (American) football in their own ways. All not THAT different in spirit from what went on in the Roman Coliseum 2,000 years ago.


                  • And yet, I am a fan of boxing, and less so, of football. I guess I’ve always assumed people are operating out of their own free will– I know the bulls would rather be out to pasture than running down streets or enduring the slings and arrows (to say nothing of the fatal sword) that are their fate in the ring– there is, however, a clip of a bull who leapt up into the paying seats that I enjoyed.

                    There is another film which I saw, and it must be around someplace still, as I saw it only within the last decade, that showed bulls, a few, being run through streets of several small Spanish towns. People would open their windows and throw things at the animals, or poke at them with sticks– though it’s one quarter of my family background, any small romance or interest I might have harbored in bulls as sport died on the spot, sort of the way BB King became a vegetarian after being up after a show in his hotel room and happening on a film shot from inside a slaughter house.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • I used to (sheepishly) watch NFL football. Such an exciting sport! But I finally willed myself not to. The last to go was the Super Bowl, which I haven’t watched in about five years. Just too much money being made, too much violence, too much pseudo-patriotism, too many right-wing owners and women-abusing players, etc.

                      Yes, football players and boxers volunteer for the carnage in the hope of glory and money, though sometimes there’s an economic need that makes things not quite 100% of a volunteer nature.

                      As for bullfighting…those poor bulls.

                      I do love sports, and get to see them in a purer form when I watch my younger (adopted) daughter (now 9) play soccer, softball, and tennis, and do gymnastics. She’s a terrific athlete, which is a new thing for my family. 🙂


  13. Great insights/examples! When it comes to violence, I feel that the degree of restraint is entirely up to the author’s discretion. In the Odyssey, for example, the story is made more exciting by the violent details provided by Homer. Polyphemus’ eye-gouging still stands out in my mind as being an example of violent being beneficial to the story.

    Violence can add peril and stakes to a work or evoke sympathy. A description of a slain character may be made more dramatic by elaborating with explicit details. Or perhaps the character’s death may be cheapened by the violent detail. The outcome is purely circumstantial and discretionary.

    Personally, when I write, I want to emphasize the impact of a gunshot or sword-slash because I don’t want violence to be portrayed as frivolous. I find Jack Bauer to be as riveting as the next guy, but I don’t want my characters to hurt/kill without showing the reader what they’re actually causing. Great post, Dave!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the kind words, JJ!

      A great point that violence, if not shown somewhat explicitly, can sanitize how awful violence is. And, yes, a graphic scene can work or not work depending on the situation, the competence of the author, and other factors.

      Eloquent comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Hi Dave, I think we are well past the point where things will ever go back to having less violence in books or movies. As you and most of the regulars here know, I’ve been addicted to mysteries, thrillers and detective fiction for well over 45 years (longer if you count my younger days reading Nancy Drew and similar series). When I first starting reading “adult” mysteries, they were mostly from the Golden Age, such as Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Josephine Tey, G.K. Chesterton, etc. I was also entranced by the “locked room” mysteries of John Dickson Carr and Ellery Queen. I then expanded out a bit with the “hard-boiled” detective novels of Raymond Chandler, Dashiel Hammett, John D. MacDonald, Ross MacDonald, etc. Well, I could go on and on, but when I look at what I read these days, the violence factor has increased exponentially. Many of the Scandinavian mysteries are very violent. Stieg Larrson’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” which I know you’ve read, may be one the most difficult mysteries for me to read, as the violence is horrifying. The odd thing is that in Sweden, for example, the crime rate is fairly low, and for the past 30 years, there have been a fairly constant number of 100 cases of lethal violence (which might well be over-reported).

    To get back to the US, I’ve been reading a lot of legal and other thrillers that can be quite violent. There’s one thriller writer (and I can never remember which “Lisa” it is, as there are quite a few of them) who has one series that takes place in Montana or someplace like it, which has a serial killer every year on the loose in this one small town — right before Christmas! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi, Kat Lib! Thanks for the wide-ranging comment!

      Mysteries, detective fiction, and thrillers have always been genres with plenty of violence, but you’re right that they’ve exponentially gone from being somewhat restrained to often quite graphic in depicting carnage.

      You’re also right about Scandinavian mysteries. The few I’ve read — including Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, John Ajvide Lindqvist’s “Harbor,” and Peter Hoeg’s “Smilla’s Sense of Snow” — are quite explicit with some of the violence.

      An annual serial killer — yikes!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dave, I’m going to go way off-topic here, but I made an interesting discovery on one of my first walks around the block with Willow. One of my neighbors on the next street over has in their backyard a chicken coop with 4 beautiful hens. I’ve become obsessed with them, and want to get a few egg layers next spring. As I mentioned, I’ve got a fairly big backyard, part of which is already fenced in for my dog. There’s plenty of room for a coop and run (of course I don’t know if the Borough will let me do this, but we always need something to dream about, right?) I also want to put in a vegetable garden in the spring and perhaps plant a few fruit trees at the very back of the property. You can probably guess what book I’ve just reread for the 3rd time, Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.” I find the entire book so interesting and inspiring, as well as environmentally sound. As you may remember, one of my favorite parts of the book has to do 9 year-old Lily’s chicken and egg enterprise. If I do any of this, I will of course refrain from getting any turkeys and dispatching them in the way described by the author. 🙂 I was reading this part right before I read your post and thought, this is pretty violent and grisly non-fiction. Not that I don’t agree with their humane treatment of their livestock, but it’s still difficult to read about.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Off topic is always welcome, Kat Lib. (Though your comment is actually not totally off topic. 🙂 )

          You have great, ambitious plans for your property, and I wish you well with them! I have two friends here in Montclair with chickens and coops in their yards, and they love the whole experience despite the responsibility involved.

          “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” is a terrific nonfiction Barbara Kingsolver book (coincidentally, one of the chicken-owning friends mentioned above is currently borrowing my copy). As you note, Kingsolver is a meat eater who’s at least more humane about it than those horrible factory farms. (I’m a vegetarian/near-vegan myself, but I’m definitely in the minority — including among my mostly meat-eating extended family.)

          Thanks for the excellent comment!


      • I agree wholeheartedly, Pat. My brother has an on-line used book/vinyl records business; he would sometimes come across used editions of Nancy Drew, the Dana Girls, Cherry Ames, Vicki Barr, and other like series, which he would send to me. Back in 1991 Applewood Books started releasing facsimile editions of Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys and Judy Bolton (original cover, illustrations, etc.). I collected 10 of the Nancy Drews, but I had to give them up as it was getting too expensive. I’m not sure if they were edited to removed some of the slightly racist overtones of the earlier books, as other reissues have done, I think. I also have perhaps 11 reissues of the classic editions of The Bobbsey Twins books, which I think have been updated to reflect some of the changing times.

        Liked by 1 person

            • Thanks, Dave! I think at least part of this thread has gone from violence to collections of books from the 50’s and 60’s (at least by me). To add to this I’d like to add, that buoyed by Kingsolver’s book, I now want to try to eat as locally and fresh as possible. This of course means cooking, which has been somewhat problematic for me in the past. I pulled out my facsimile edition of a book published in 1957 — “Betty Crocker’s Cook Book for Boys and Girls.” I figure that I must be able to make at least some these recipes that have been tested by young kids. Of course many of them are sugary cakes, cookies and other things that I don’t eat, but there are decent recipes if I substitute grass-fed meat and locally grown vegetables and fruits. As I was going through it today, I came across a page that showed how to make cereal more interesting to kids by putting canned fruit to makes faces on the top. One of them used a prune as the head, and it was entitled “Old Black Joe.” I asked my friend if he thought this was racist and he agreed, citing having to rename “Little Black Sambo.” At any rate, there are two groceries close to where I live that carry local fruits and vegetables, grass fed and locally grown meats. I’m going tomorrow to check them out.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Eating as locally and fresh as possible is a wonderful idea, Kat Lib! I try to do that (not always succeeding, because I go to restaurants and eat frozen food here and there), but I do cook sort of from scratch several times a week and go to my local farmers’ market every Saturday morning.

                Fascinating how recipe books were different — and not as politically correct — a half century ago. I agree about that prune thing being thoroughly racist!


        • I don’t know if you have the knack, Dave, but if possible, would you please make this a reply free-standing and unattached to the comment above? Did not mean to attach it here, and yet, in a larger sense…


          Liked by 1 person

            • I’ve done as you instructed. Thanks in advance for removing the comment from it original misplaced location!

              (You could, I’m hoping, remove this one too…) O what tangled web, even if deception was unintended)


      • When I was a kid, 55 years ago, there was a used book place near the NC State campus that sold (often slightly moldy) copies of Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys mysteries for a dime or maybe so much as a quarter apiece. As Papa was paying, I don’t remember which. But I do remember bringing them home, for a while, by the bagful, and reading them one after another. It was sort of the book equivalent of Halloween night after I’d made the rounds: I never stopped till the bag was empty.

        Liked by 1 person

        • That’s a great memory, jhNY! I was fortunate to grow up in a neighborhood with 12 girls and 12 boys, all of the same age and school class. Our parents were I’m sure quite grateful that most of us were reading the same book series and could borrow them from each other. I think I was the only girl who actually enjoyed The Hardy Boys, not of course more than the others, but in a pinch they would do. I still had a quite extensive collection of most of them, as my parents, brothers and sisters were all great readers and book collectors (which helps explain why I in my 50’s and 60’s have been collecting used and reissues of so many pre-teen books).

          Liked by 1 person

          • Among my little set of pals, I think I may have been the only boy who enjoyed Nancy Drew– which I may not even have mentioned to them, because: peer group pressure.

            I never got around to things like Cherry Ames, though I do remember when I heard their names on the top of the Democratic ticket in 2004, exclaiming “Kerry Edwards, Student Nurse!”

            Liked by 1 person

            • Ha! I don’t remember that about the 2004 ticket, but I was too busy working and other things to follow politics very closely back then. The interesting thing to me, as a second wave (?) feminist was that when we were younger, the only professions truly open to women were as nurses (Cherry Ames), stewardesses (Vicki Barr), and of course teachers. I still remember the Christmas my parents gave me the “Cherry Ames Guide to First Aid and Home Nursing.” I was 11 at the time and thought I’d truly died and gone to heaven. I don’t knock any women who are in those professions, as I know how hard-working and professional they need to be, and usually are.

              Liked by 1 person

              • My mother had a long career as a librarian and served as the Associate Director at a major university’s medical library. I firmly believe she would have been Director had not the times been what we both remember them to have been.

                Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, bebe! Very sorry you haven’t been feeling well. I hope you’re starting to feel better.

        Looking forward to hearing what you have to say about this topic!

        And thank you again for recommending “The God of Small Things” a couple (?) years ago. (I know I credited you before for that, and I usually don’t credit a commenter a second time for recommending a novel or author, but… 🙂 )

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yaa…Dave, ” The God of Small Things” is about misery likes company. So many mean spirited people. But Trump overtakes all with is nastiness.This is so good I thought of posting this in here.

          Liked by 1 person

          • bebe, that was very well done and very funny. Thanks for sharing and I’m glad you’re feeling if only a little bit better. I and my guy friend who stays with me most of time have both been under the weather the past couple of weeks but it’s not anywhere close to getting as bad as usual for this time of year, thank goodness! My dog Willow was spayed today and is doing OK, but seems a bit uncomfortable even in her dog bed. I don’t understand how a 3 or 4 year-old dog hasn’t been spayed in this day and age, but I don’t know anything about her former owner, so I can’t really judge.

            Liked by 2 people

            • Yes Kat Lib he is a very talented artist, long ago he made a parody of On Dylan , I posted that in Dave`s last time. Sounds just like Mr. Dylan very funny.
              I am glad Willow got spayed, my Pomchi since she was in Nashville Humane as a rule they neuter all irrespective of age and my poor Pomchi was only 7-8 weeks old. I am hoping I will fell better tomorrow, but still tired , just drinking and drinking.

              Liked by 1 person

      • Feel better! I’ve been hacking and coughing for better than week now, but for the last few days, much less than before. If you’ve got what I got, the worst will soon be over!

        Liked by 2 people

        • I am glad you feel better , for last 2 plus weeks my husband was doing that and was home for two days which is very unusual and sure enough that`s what I am doing. My best friend from Nashville , I call her half doctor , she is doc`s wife and doing all kinds of care giving for her husband which is a long story. She tells me just drink water, if you think you drank too much have a couple of glasses more. And I am hardly ever sick 😦

          Liked by 1 person

          • I’m in Nashville this very minute, drinking as much water and cranberry juice as I can stand, and it does help!

            Went with my 88 year old mother to the polls yesterday here. In the area where anyone might post campaign signs, there were NO Trump signs, not one. I’ve been here since Tuesday last, I’ve only spotted ONE Trump bumper sticker in all that time, and that was on the car of a visiting Texan, God bless his heart.

            Also, though early voting began last Thursday, the line, moving quickly, was about 60 people long, never shortening while I was there. A person leaving the booths was replaced by another at line’s end.

            As I’m registered in NY, I did not vote. The polling place was a library, and everybody, staff and voters were friendly, and unthreatening and unthreatened. So I sat in a comfy chair, and read, having only waiting time enough to finish Old Lights, a short short story by Algernon Blackwood, and a good one.

            I was cheered by the experience. Nashville, at least, I feel sure will not vote for Trumplethinskin. The rest of the state, sadly, will in all likelihood not follow Nashville’s lead.

            Get well soon!

            Liked by 2 people

            • I was drinking apple juice, warming it up. Oh my 92 year old girlfriend from Nashville who still drives and plays golf. Now have cancer and surgery is out of question, getting some experimental chemo done and sends me all the data, which of course i have no clue. She is a progressive . Her parents moves from Albania way back when to NY. She tells me that time folks used to call her ” that foreign girl”. She still speaks up against racism, she looks white with no accent of course and can not stand such nonsense. She is an artisan and makes beautiful necklaces and sells then in fares , still.
              Oh I miss Nashville, in OH it is like a different world, i am outspoken but not an angry person and still my husband wants me to shut up and i might bring trouble home.
              Nashville always goes blue but TN is a different story.

              Liked by 1 person

              • My mother loves New Orleans style jazz a la Armstrong, and I do too, so we always go when I’m in town, and she always goes when I am not.The Sunday jazz group (excellent!) at Dalt’s here is attended largely by retirees, one of whom is 97. When the band is really going at it, I occasionally look over and there she is, dancing!

                Liked by 2 people

                • so nice to hear, my Nashville friend is just like that, her Son who perhaps past 50 lives with her not other way around in apartments. It is wonderful for both of them. He perhaps is a Republican at least was, do not know now.

                  Liked by 1 person

            • jhNY, I feel somewhat confident that the town I live in will go Democrat, if one goes by the number of signs in the yard (which I know isn’t a valid indication of how the voting will go). However, my neighborhood is a mish-mash of retirees, blue class workers, white professionals, public servants, and Hispanics. There are only Clinton/Kaine signs up, and I called the Dem headquarters yesterday to get one of the signs; however, they were out of them until perhaps this afternoon, but with all else going on in our lives, never made it there. I hope to do so tomorrow, even if there are only a couple of weeks left.

              Liked by 1 person

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