**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


Why Men Can’t Read Novels By Women
by [?]

“Sir,” cried the Colonel, jolting some tobacco ash off the ledge made by his abdomen, which he did by pounding the side of his torso with a bulky volume of the “Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini,” “what is the theme of the most conspicuous portion of our fiction by feminine hands? In large measure it is a peevish criticism of husbands. We have the popular creator of a type of husband held up to the scorn and ridicule of the sorority of her readers, remarking by way of commentary on her satirical pictures that there should be ‘a school for husbands.’ It is, apparently, this lady’s complacent belief that the origin of the domestic difficulties of the world is in the inadequate training of husbands for their delicate office. One of ‘the essential requirements’ for marriage which ‘men should go to school to learn’ she mentions as ‘understanding.’ Wives, presumably, are born perfectly equipped for their functions and do not require to be made. At any rate, as the production of fiction nowadays is so largely a feminine industry, and as a dominant trait of the male, even when recording his observations, is his chivalrous point of view, there is little or no opportunity given us on the benches, as you might say, to catch a glimpse of life pointing a way for us to see it steadily and see it whole.”

The Jovian Colonel blew a heavy cloud of tobacco smoke from out his massive ebony beard, and sat for a moment looking like some portentous smouldering volcano; then continued:

“Men with hair on their chests would find the most agreeable society in the pages of our women novelists to be that of the horrible or, as the case may be, pitiful scoundrels at whom the authors themselves are most indignant. These miserable beings, generally amiable though rather purposeless spirits, are, as Colonel Harvey not long ago remarked of one of them, of a sort that almost all men like and hardly any woman can tolerate. Men are free to enjoy their engaging qualities because men are not subject to possible misfortune by reason of the corresponding infirmities of such characters, that is, men are not dependent upon them for their own safety. Women, on the other hand, fear such characters because instinct tells women that they could not trust their own comfortable security to them; and, consequently, women heartily dislike such as these and find them villainous, beings to be branded in any feminine discussion of life as enemies of the sex.

“In the latest novel by one of our most prominent women novelists,” the Colonel went on, “for months the best-selling book in the country, and also undoubtedly the work of an artist sincerely interpreting the world according to her lights, we are presented with a distressing scene, an incident holy horror at which would make a thrilling and delicious success of any tea party. An undisciplined young pup who is the husband comes home a bit late one night, and, as a man would describe it, somewhat ‘lit up.’ An earnest student of this story cannot find that this misguided youth was any worse than is ordinarily the case in such delinquencies. It is intimated, however, that he has been this way before. The horror, the loathing, which the humorous young scamp’s weakness inspires in his wife, a young woman of thoroughly feminine loftiness of character, is dramatic indeed, and partakes of the nature of that which so frequently is occasioned by the nervous organism of women, a ‘scene.’ The total lack of large-hearted and intelligent ‘understanding’ of human nature displayed by the conduct of the young man would send any connubial craft on to the rocks.”

The Colonel mopped his brow with a large bandanna handkerchief. “Sir,” he resumed, “obnoxious as it is to a sensible man to do so, let us glance at the hero type of the most popular recent novels by women, the figure which strikes admiration into the feminine soul. Now,” he roared (and I declare, my hair rose on end), “the most awful thing any nigger can call another is a ‘nigger.’ So we all rebel against what we feel to be the weaknesses of our own position. None so quick as the vulgar to denounce ‘no gentleman.’ And so on. Thus, as we see, there is nothing the weaker sex so much despises in a man as weakness of character, and, as is consistent with all such reactions of feeling, nothing which so much attracts it as a firmness and strength of will beyond itself. Naturally, the adored figures in the popular women’s fiction are always of the ‘strong man’ type, in feminine eyes. And here we come to a most extraordinary obliquity of the feminine eye.