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Green Gogol

On realism, grimdark and childishness

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3 hours ago, Dora Vee said:

Some people have called "Noble Bright" "Hopepunk."

I can't decide which is worse. 

Ya -- I mean -- wteffffff? "punk" has in every usage going back to sheesh, what, the 17th century derivation from 'spunk' been anything but hope.  "Punk" has never connotated anything worthwhile (unless, maybe a punk, as a burning strand to set fire to something, particularly early firearms).  Who ARE these people coming up with such balderdash?

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On 2/1/2019 at 5:00 PM, john said:

Stephen Donaldson says nuh-uh Glen.

 

 

On 2/1/2019 at 4:36 PM, Darth Richard II said:

Grimdark didn't begin with GRRM. Glen Cook says hi.

 

On 2/1/2019 at 5:35 PM, Darth Richard II said:

Pretty sure most people associate grimdark with Abercrombie, but hey, you're the expert. :rolleyes:

Blood, cum, and vomit-spattered mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the grimdarkiest of them all?  

 

17 Bakker fanboys scramble to the keyboards 

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Eh, see, I consider plain dark fantasy to be different from grimdark. There's a kind of self depreciating humor I associate with grimdark that I don't think Bakker has.

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On 2/1/2019 at 1:57 PM, Jo498 said:

This interesting site gives comparisons of incomes and values. For 1800 vs. 2017 it gives about a factor of 1000 for the relative Income value (showing one's position in the economy as a whole) of 1 pound. So Mr Darcy got around 10 Million a year in today's terms, he clearly is top .01% or so. 40 pounds passive income looks like comfortably middle class if it is equivalent to 40,000. But the purchasing power of a pound was only about 76 pounds in today's terms! So divide the numbers above by 13. Darcy is still rich. But living on about 3000 pounds p.a. and be expected to lead a middle class life style. This will not work. Of course, this mainly shows how poor 90% of the populace was 200 years ago and that even the bourgeoisie and the shabby genteel were in precarious conditions, especially if their passive income was reduced by economic upheavals.

https://www.measuringworth.com/calculators/ukcompare/relativevalue.php

This is a bit of thread drift from grimdark, but I've always been fascinated by trying to understand what various numbers in stories about the past really mean and I've never found a satisfactory explanation. Your description above kind of hangs together as far as the Bennets are concerned... but think about, say, Bob Cratchit from A Christmas Carol. I mention him because we know his exact income: it's 15 shillings per week which works out to 39 pounds per year (there are 52 weeks in a year and 20 shillings in a pound). With the possible exception of whatever his eldest daughter makes as a milliner's apprentice (I don't know that they get paid at all but if they do, it can't be much), this is the sole source of income for a family of seven people and it is sufficient (though just barely and not enough to cover medical problems). It would certainly be enough for a single person -- and this is despite the fact that A Christmas Carol is set roughly half a century after Pride and Prejudice. Thus, £40 in 1800 can't possibly be truly equal to £3000 from today or anything of the sort (in fact, that calculator and most reputable sites kind of warn you about such extrapolation). By the way, I reread part of the story and realized that I got the number wrong: after Mrs. Bennet is gone, it's £50 per daughter per year, not £40 (it doesn't change the question though).

My guess regarding what is happening here is that the worst case scenario for the Misses Bennet is that they'd have an upper middle class income, but society would expect them to behave like the upper class into which they were born. It's most closely analogous to somebody who makes $150K per year (before taxes), but they have to live in New York City or San Francisco and can only hang out with the type of people who drink Dom Perignon and wear Rolex watches. At the beginning of Emma, Jane Fairfax is in the same boat.

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12 hours ago, Zorral said:

Nirvana in Fire (another name that makes no sense to me, but wth, I know nothing of Buddhism, so maybe it actually means something in English?) 

I was curious so I went to look up the original wording and it has nothing to do with nirvana nor fire. Its hard to translate, but its roughly list (of names) of/by person(person's name). Zero translation involved. Complete localisation. 

 

Edit - If I were to translate it, it would be (person's name)'s roster.

Edited by Proudfeet

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Of course, the amounts are not "truly equal", that's why the site gives you around 5 or more different ones. I'm not familiar enough with economics to understand them precisely. But "purchasing power" seems sufficiently clear. I have also been interested in such things since I read Sherlock Holmes' stories as a 10-12 year old and there is one where a young woman gets an offer of 100 pounds p.a. (+ room and board) for a governess job which seems (and not unsurprisingly is) too good to be true (The adventure of the Copper Beeches). This seemed very little in 1980s money... ;) So I figured there had to be a factor of 50 or so (in fact for 1890 vs. 1983 it is a factor of 30-200 according to the calculator).

For 40 pounds in 1850 (i.e. typical Dickens settings, although quite a few novels take place earlier, I believe) the calculator gives 4066 GBP purchasing power/real wealth. Relative to the earnings of an average worker the calculator gives about 31,000 GBP and about 50,000 for the relative status such an income would imply in the economy as a whole.

Obviously, comparisons still have to take into account more factors. Some things were comparably cheaper (such as domestic help), others far more expensive (good clothing, travelling). Lots of amenities simply were not available at all. A far higher percentage of average incomes had to be spent on food, housing and accomodations were often very shabby (not always cheap but probably often comparably so) etc.

The point, and I think that this becomes quite clear from many 19th century novels even without looking at such numbers and comparisons, is that even the middle class was rather poor compared to what we have become used to in the Western world in the last decades. I don't think I have ever seen a pawn shop in real life (although they still do exist) but I knew what it was from reading already as a child. That almost every novel from the 19th and early 20th century has characters plagued by debt is another sign how people (and not the destitute slum dwellers but the middle classes) struggled to get by.

edit: Voices from Dickens' London is a very accessible and interesting book for some background of the early Victorian period

ISBN-13: 978-0715322819

 

 

Edited by Jo498

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12 hours ago, Altherion said:

This is a bit of thread drift from grimdark, but I've always been fascinated by trying to understand what various numbers in stories about the past really mean and I've never found a satisfactory explanation. Your description above kind of hangs together as far as the Bennets are concerned... but think about, say, Bob Cratchit from A Christmas Carol. I mention him because we know his exact income: it's 15 shillings per week which works out to 39 pounds per year (there are 52 weeks in a year and 20 shillings in a pound). With the possible exception of whatever his eldest daughter makes as a milliner's apprentice (I don't know that they get paid at all but if they do, it can't be much), this is the sole source of income for a family of seven people and it is sufficient (though just barely and not enough to cover medical problems). It would certainly be enough for a single person -- and this is despite the fact that A Christmas Carol is set roughly half a century after Pride and Prejudice. Thus, £40 in 1800 can't possibly be truly equal to £3000 from today or anything of the sort (in fact, that calculator and most reputable sites kind of warn you about such extrapolation). By the way, I reread part of the story and realized that I got the number wrong: after Mrs. Bennet is gone, it's £50 per daughter per year, not £40 (it doesn't change the question though).

My guess regarding what is happening here is that the worst case scenario for the Misses Bennet is that they'd have an upper middle class income, but society would expect them to behave like the upper class into which they were born. It's most closely analogous to somebody who makes $150K per year (before taxes), but they have to live in New York City or San Francisco and can only hang out with the type of people who drink Dom Perignon and wear Rolex watches. At the beginning of Emma, Jane Fairfax is in the same boat.

It's funny that Pride and Prejudice should come up in a discussion about grim dark, but it makes sense when one follows the thread.

IMHO, if the Bennetts were kicked out of Longbourne, their combined income would put them on a par with say, a successful wine merchant or attorney, or for that matter, Jane Austen's father, who was a vicar.  Enough to rent a nice house in Bath and employ a couple of servants.  So, not a disaster, but a long way short of what they'd be used to.

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4 hours ago, Jo498 said:

Of course, the amounts are not "truly equal", that's why the site gives you around 5 or more different ones. I'm not familiar enough with economics to understand them precisely. But "purchasing power" seems sufficiently clear. I have also been interested in such things since I read Sherlock Holmes' stories as a 10-12 year old and there is one where a young woman gets an offer of 100 pounds p.a. (+ room and board) for a governess job which seems (and not unsurprisingly is) too good to be true (The adventure of the Copper Beeches). This seemed very little in 1980s money... ;) So I figured there had to be a factor of 50 or so (in fact for 1890 vs. 1983 it is a factor of 30-200 according to the calculator).

For 40 pounds in 1850 (i.e. typical Dickens settings, although quite a few novels take place earlier, I believe) the calculator gives 4066 GBP purchasing power/real wealth. Relative to the earnings of an average worker the calculator gives about 31,000 GBP and about 50,000 for the relative status such an income would imply in the economy as a whole.

Obviously, comparisons still have to take into account more factors. Some things were comparably cheaper (such as domestic help), others far more expensive (good clothing, travelling). Lots of amenities simply were not available at all. A far higher percentage of average incomes had to be spent on food, housing and accomodations were often very shabby (not always cheap but probably often comparably so) etc.

The point, and I think that this becomes quite clear from many 19th century novels even without looking at such numbers and comparisons, is that even the middle class was rather poor compared to what we have become used to in the Western world in the last decades. I don't think I have ever seen a pawn shop in real life (although they still do exist) but I knew what it was from reading already as a child. That almost every novel from the 19th and early 20th century has characters plagued by debt is another sign how people (and not the destitute slum dwellers but the middle classes) struggled to get by.

edit: Voices from Dickens' London is a very accessible and interesting book for some background of the early Victorian period

ISBN-13: 978-0715322819

 

 

Bankruptcy was a real, and dreadful, threat, for any businessman, at that point. Being sent to a debtor's prison would ruin one's family.

A big problem for the mass of the population, was that even when they had money, there was not much to invest it in, other than their own businesses.  The elite had land, the not quite so elite could buy government stock, or invest in ships, but it wasn't till building and friendly societies came into being that people like clerks or shopkeepers had a means of saving.  So, they tended to blow surplus income on drink and gambling.

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4 hours ago, Jo498 said:

Obviously, comparisons still have to take into account more factors. Some things were comparably cheaper (such as domestic help), others far more expensive (good clothing, travelling). Lots of amenities simply were not available at all. A far higher percentage of average incomes had to be spent on food, housing and accomodations were often very shabby (not always cheap but probably often comparably so) etc.

The point, and I think that this becomes quite clear from many 19th century novels even without looking at such numbers and comparisons, is that even the middle class was rather poor compared to what we have become used to in the Western world in the last decades. I don't think I have ever seen a pawn shop in real life (although they still do exist) but I knew what it was from reading already as a child. That almost every novel from the 19th and early 20th century has characters plagued by debt is another sign how people (and not the destitute slum dwellers but the middle classes) struggled to get by.

Very much this.

To take the example of the Cratchits, they would almost certainly have been living in what most of us today would consider to to be desperate poverty. Very poor housing insufficiently warmed, generally inadequate poor quality food, limited furniture (the children are likely all sharing the same bed); probably only a couple of changes of clothing and those much patched and darned (with one set of clothes being passed down to each child in turn), few other possessions, and so on.

But they of course would not look at their existence in the same way and would know that they were far from being at the bottom of society.

 

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18 hours ago, Altherion said:

This is a bit of thread drift from grimdark, but I've always been fascinated by trying to understand what various numbers in stories about the past really mean and I've never found a satisfactory explanation. Your description above kind of hangs together as far as the Bennets are concerned... but think about, say, Bob Cratchit from A Christmas Carol. I mention him because we know his exact income: it's 15 shillings per week which works out to 39 pounds per year (there are 52 weeks in a year and 20 shillings in a pound). With the possible exception of whatever his eldest daughter makes as a milliner's apprentice (I don't know that they get paid at all but if they do, it can't be much), this is the sole source of income for a family of seven people and it is sufficient (though just barely and not enough to cover medical problems). It would certainly be enough for a single person -- and this is despite the fact that A Christmas Carol is set roughly half a century after Pride and Prejudice. Thus, £40 in 1800 can't possibly be truly equal to £3000 from today or anything of the sort (in fact, that calculator and most reputable sites kind of warn you about such extrapolation). By the way, I reread part of the story and realized that I got the number wrong: after Mrs. Bennet is gone, it's £50 per daughter per year, not £40 (it doesn't change the question though).

My guess regarding what is happening here is that the worst case scenario for the Misses Bennet is that they'd have an upper middle class income, but society would expect them to behave like the upper class into which they were born. It's most closely analogous to somebody who makes $150K per year (before taxes), but they have to live in New York City or San Francisco and can only hang out with the type of people who drink Dom Perignon and wear Rolex watches. At the beginning of Emma, Jane Fairfax is in the same boat.

The Bennets were not born into social distinction of the upper class, nowhere near it.  Trade was was the basis of the family's economic rise -- they are called landed gentry, not the same thing as upper class. Additionally, the Bennet income is dwindling since the first purchase of land by the ancestor who bought it with the profits made in trade.  Why do you think Darcy's aunt DeBourgh is so adamant that Elizabeth isn't fit to marry him?  It's not only because she doesn't have anything near an upper class income -- her father's is described as a modest income of a modest member of the landed gentry (gentry and gentleman does not mean aristocrat; of course Darcy's not an aristo either, but his income is far greater than many a member of that class). An income of 2000 pounds per annum is considered merely 'respectable' for a gentleman.  And his income has been dwindling due to -- the times, the weather and Bennet's own refusal to bother himself with the estate's day-to-day working (like so many of his sort!) or make any provision for the future of the estate -- especially as it's now clear his family won't be getting anything from it.

Class distinctions were very clear in both criminal law and social 'laws.'  Upper class marriages were very much made with these distinctions in mind.

Today in NYC someone who makes $150,000 can buy a rolex and drink dom Pérignon -- especially if one is born into the truly wealthy classes. The problem is buying that condo and the private school fees of precious child -- so no yachts, no helicopters, and it would be irresponsible to buy bottles of the most aspirational status champagnes like  the Krugs and Bollingers.

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One thought I had about this topic, when I finally got around to reading Mark Lawrence's Prince of Thorns book last year, was that this "adult book" was incredibly childish. Despite being about rape and horror and violence and war and what we consider to be very adult issues, it's very much a YA power-fantasy book, except the protagonist is a 13 year old evil wunderkind who can do everything he wants to do (I think at one point, the main character learns how to do kung fu from reading a book) instead of a 13 year old good wunderkind who can do whatever they want to do.  It's all very edgy and GRIM in a way that reminds me of how 13 year olds can think that swearing and blood and gore are signs of maturity.  I think it's a key example of how grimdark does not equal adult. I haven't read anything more by Lawrence though, so this only applies to that one book.

In general, I'd say fantasy publishers are getting pretty crafty at marketing YA books as "adult" books though. Not that there's anything wrong with YA in itself, but I'm getting kind of tired of starting new, seemingly well reviewed books that promise political, cultural, and character complexity but are really, again, shallow power fantasies about a young woman/man who learns they're the most special snowflake in all the land.  Chakraborty's City of Brass and Scwhab's A Darker Shade of Magic come to mind. And as I read these books, which are supposed to be adult fiction, all I can think of is how The Hobbit, a book definitely meant for kids, handles "adult" themes with more maturity.    

 

Edited by Caligula_K3

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2 minutes ago, Darth Richard II said:

Prince of Thorns isn't about rape. At all. I doubt you actually read it.

Umm, thanks for the doubt, but I promise you that I read it. I don't have a precise memory of everything that happens in the book, because I read it a year ago and didn't enjoy it, but I do remember that Jorg and his band of rogues do commit rape, close to the beginning of the book.  This is part of how Jorg's character and the setting is established. Just as in Thomas Covenant, even though much of the story isn't about rape, the foundation for the novel and his character is an act of rape.

 

In fact, I just double checked this through an internet search, and Mark Lawrence talks about this in a blogpost, so I know my memory is not making it up:

http://mark---lawrence.blogspot.com/2015/03/a-difficult-post.html

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Ok, the book isn't about rape, if you want to be pedantic about word choice. But rape is used as a device to introduce the main character and to show you how evil he is and how dark this book is going to be, and it is suggested that this is the tone of the world,  along with extreme and excessive  violence. As the book goes on and next to no female characters appear (his mother in flashback and the princess are the only two I remember) , I found this element especially jarring and noticeable in his worldbuilding. And if I remember, there are other acts of sexual violence in the book.

And my point in that post is that including rape does not make this book more "adult;" in his blog post, Lawrence talks about A Clockwork Orange. I don't see any of the same thoughtfulness about issues like this in Prince of Thorns as I do in Burgess' book.

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It always amazes me the way some fantasy fans get this almost cognitive dissonance from a war story that doesn't involve some form of sexual assault. I mean, children are raped and molested in orphanages as much as women are during an occupation or after a battle, yet I have yet to see someone say "Y'know, I was really disappointed that Oliver Twist wasn't raped in the orphanage. I mean, I don't like it any more than you do, but I think Dickens had a responsibility to show how things really are spending time in a place like that."

Edited by Let's Get Kraken

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16 minutes ago, Let's Get Kraken said:

It always amazes me the way some fantasy fans get this almost cognitive dissonance from a war story that doesn't involve some form of sexual assault. I mean, children are raped and molested in orphanages as much as women are during an occupation or after a battle, yet I have yet to see someone say "Y'know, I was really disappointed that Oliver Twist wasn't raped in the orphanage. I mean, I don't like it any more than you do, but I think Dickens had a responsibility to show how things really are spending time in a place like that."

I’ve actually seen that a few times but it was all done sarcastically 

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9 hours ago, Let's Get Kraken said:

It always amazes me the way some fantasy fans get this almost cognitive dissonance from a war story that doesn't involve some form of sexual assault. I mean, children are raped and molested in orphanages as much as women are during an occupation or after a battle, yet I have yet to see someone say "Y'know, I was really disappointed that Oliver Twist wasn't raped in the orphanage. I mean, I don't like it any more than you do, but I think Dickens had a responsibility to show how things really are spending time in a place like that."

I think the fanfic writes itself.

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16 hours ago, Zorral said:

The Bennets were not born into social distinction of the upper class, nowhere near it.  Trade was was the basis of the family's economic rise -- they are called landed gentry, not the same thing as upper class. Additionally, the Bennet income is dwindling since the first purchase of land by the ancestor who bought it with the profits made in trade.  Why do you think Darcy's aunt DeBourgh is so adamant that Elizabeth isn't fit to marry him?  It's not only because she doesn't have anything near an upper class income -- her father's is described as a modest income of a modest member of the landed gentry (gentry and gentleman does not mean aristocrat; of course Darcy's not an aristo either, but his income is far greater than many a member of that class). An income of 2000 pounds per annum is considered merely 'respectable' for a gentleman.  And his income has been dwindling due to -- the times, the weather and Bennet's own refusal to bother himself with the estate's day-to-day working (like so many of his sort!) or make any provision for the future of the estate -- especially as it's now clear his family won't be getting anything from it.

Class distinctions were very clear in both criminal law and social 'laws.'  Upper class marriages were very much made with these distinctions in mind.

Today in NYC someone who makes $150,000 can buy a rolex and drink dom Pérignon -- especially if one is born into the truly wealthy classes. The problem is buying that condo and the private school fees of precious child -- so no yachts, no helicopters, and it would be irresponsible to buy bottles of the most aspirational status champagnes like  the Krugs and Bollingers.

With an income of £10,000 a year, Darcy would have been richer than many members of the House of Lords, at the time, and certainly, his relatives are much more distinguished than those of the Bennetts.  His grandfather was an Earl, as is his uncle.

Edited by SeanF

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