Sunday, November 17, 2013

Malcolm Saville admonishes Nick Clegg

"Press the horn, then, and fetch your father so that he can move and let our friends through. You've no right to park your car right there. Why don't you leave it on the road where it belongs?" 
"Friends! Percy sneered. "They can't be your friends. They're gipsies." 
Malcolm Saville Lone Pine Five (1949)
It is not just that the Gypsies Reuben and Miranda are good characters in the early Lone Pine stories: it is that you can tell other characters worth by their attitudes towards them. Good characters like the Gypsies, but the baddies hate them.

For more on Malcolm Saville and the Romanies, read no. 7 of Stephen Bigger's collected papers on Malcolm Saville:
Malcolm Saville had clearly met a Romany group and was determined to break down a stereotype by presenting them as noble savages, almost as middle class. “Peter soon learned that she really had found fine friends in these wandering Romanies, who were so different from the rascally van-dwellers which many people miscalled gypsies” (Neglected Mountain, p.145). His Romany family only had one child (the norm is one a year), and paid its way (no stealing). The narratives gives many opportunities for expressing prejudice and breaking it down. The result is worthy, even if inaccurate.
By contrast, Gyspies tend to be villains in Enid Blyton's work. Yet, as Stephen Bigger point out, she and Saville were writing only a few years after Gypsies had been the victims of genocide under the Third Reich.


Stephen Bigger said...

Thanks, Jonathan. And still public opinion on the Roma is negative. Saville was inspirational, turning the tables. His villains were white, middle class, and socially respected. How accurate is that??

Jane Leaper said...

Good effort, but rather spoilt by your reference to the supposed Romani birthrate: "the norm is one a year". Actually an EC study shows a birthrate more than twice the European norm, but nowhere near "one a year" and like other Europeans, the birth rate is declining.