Saturday, June 26, 2010

Village in the Treetops

When I'm not busy preparing lessons or reading scriptures, I like to use my breaks at work to read. When I couldn't find the third westmark book due to the mass of confusion that is my book collection, I decided to pick up an old Jules Verne that I had never read before. Supposedly, Villiage in the Treetops explores Verne's take on evolution, but forgoes the typical gadgetry that accompanies his stories. I used to be a huge fan of Verne, so I hoped to pass some enjoyable hours reading it.

I hate the amount of it I could stand to read. It's so thick with racist stereotypes, allusions, or outright presumptions of superiority that I wasn't able to get past the first few pages. Perhaps its no different than the conventions that lead him to write a servant character into 20,000 leagues who throws himself to his death rather than abandon his master to die alone. But somehow, questions of race have modern descendants that make unearthing old moldy stupidity seem even fouler than coming across non racial class boundary stupidity.
I've had to wonder, have I ever been a Verne fan or did I simply adore 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea? Around the world in 80 days is a passable story. The Mysterious Island I can't stand. Journey to the Center of the Earth is simply annoying. But Captain Nemo's nameless sense of loss and isolation from all humanity struck such a cord with me I couldn't stop reading it when I was in my teens. I've probably read the story 8-15 times. I finally had to make myself stop reading it because it was fixating me on a subject that left me quite depressed. Something of the undiagnosed Aspie in me connected with Captain Nemo. I was honestly quite disappointed to have his secret revealed in The Mysterious Island.

In any case, I recommend against reading the Village in the Treetops unless you feel ready to ignore colonialist and racist sentiments in your characters.

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