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Heinlein's flawed characterizations 
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Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2010 8:10 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein's flawed characterizations
WHAT FLAWED CHARACERIZATIONS? Heinlein's characters deilvered the message he was trying to get across under the restrictions of the publishers. I don't read Heinlein as a character study but spend most of my time analyzing the back story. The most interesting are the juveniles where he was strugling with the restrictions for those books. Only ST and TMIAHM come up to the quality of the juveniles. I have no interest in the socalled literary analysis. I read for entertainment, not analysis.


Tue Sep 11, 2012 2:07 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein's flawed characterizations
ChuckA wrote:
I have no interest in the socalled literary analysis. I read for entertainment, not analysis.

Then Chuck, with all due respect, you're in the wrong place here. The Advanced Heinlein subforum was created specifically to hold 'analytical' discussions that might indeed be outside the interests of most readers. If those aren't to your interest, almost all of the other subforums here are more general and tend to keep the discussion at a reader/fan/entertainment level.


Tue Sep 11, 2012 3:17 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein's flawed characterizations
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I don't want anyone, Peter most of all, to assume I've abandoned the discussion. I simply haven't had time this week to address the topic properly. I will comment as soon as I can.


Thu Sep 13, 2012 1:27 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein's flawed characterizations
I realize that it has been suggested that Heinlein's characters should be analyzed within the Heinlein canon, and not compared to other authors. But being that there's no absolute objective way of doing so ("Jill is an 86 on a 100 point scale, while Eunice is a 33"), and that any character can only be compared to another, I think there's merit in looking at Heinlein's females compared to those found elsewhere in literature.

As an engineer by profession, I like to look at a variable in isolation, holding everything else constant. I know, the arts and humanities don't work that way, but . . .

Am I the only one who finds enough similarities between the structure of Podkayne of Mars and A Wrinkle in Time to think it might be useful to compare Poddy and Meg? As opposed to Clark and Charles Wallace?

One of the problems I have with this in engaging the topic is that when someone says "so and so is a bad girl character", it's difficult to support or rebut that in anything but the most general way. But if someone says, "Poddy's relationship with her brother is not that of a sister but rather a nongendered sibling, as evidenced by xxxxx; compare this to how Meg treats CW as evidenced by yyyy", then that could well be persuasive. It seems to me that PoM and WiT are sufficiently similar in the top-level descriptions of these characters that you could make a useful comparison – at least as useful as comparing any two random females from within Heinlein's writings, anyway.

[and Jim, if you feel this is off-topic so much that it will detract from this thread, by all means move it to another]


Thu Sep 13, 2012 2:05 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein's flawed characterizations
You're entirely on the right track, Bill.

I don't object to comparison with other writers's characters as long as it's illustrative. What I object to is doing so as some sort of ranking process - finding ten authors whose characterizations were worse doesn't make Heinlein better. There is a fairly absolute viewpoint available, even if it's based on a subjective interpretation.

Maybe it boils down to the old writing dictum and the most common writing flaw: Show, don't tell. I'll recast a lot of what I said above as that Heinlein spent a lot of time TELLING us characters were female; I don't think he was successful at SHOWING it.

(Still short on time, will return to the table as soon as I can.)


Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:23 am
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