James A. Michener, Based On His ‘Tales of the South Pacific’, Might Have Been A Closet Racist!
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Do not get me wrong. I am a HUGE fan of James A. Michener, as the photo below of my little ‘shrine’ to him in my library amply testifies. Also, if you do a SEARCH of this Blog (using the included SEARCH feature) of ‘Michener‘ you will see that I rave about him.
I know he was a good man, had a good heart and was a true philanthropist.
But, I finished reading his acclaimed, award-winning ‘Tales of the South Pacific‘ (1947) and I was NOT impressed. There were parts in it which were very disturbing. Yes, I appreciate that he wrote per 1946 standards BUT his tone and timbre when he deals with non-whites is patently wrong and offensive.
He repeatedly calls Polynesians and Chinese SAVAGES. I show but three examples above. There are more. Go to Amazon and use the electronic ‘Look Inside‘ feature. You can search for words with that. Type in ‘savages’.
You could NOT get away with that today.
Polynesians and Chinese?
Yes, that I am Asian probably makes me a tad more sensitive than others.
I like Polynesians and Chinese. They are NOT savages.
He also is very dismissive of American blacks in the forces. YIKES.
I also question his sexual-orientation. He comes across as ‘not that partial to women‘. Yes, I know he was thrice married and his last wife was Japanese. But, he was more than happy to leave his first wife for long periods of time and he was childless. Hhhmmm.
I was looking forward to reading this book. I had just finished ‘The Covenant‘. Yes, there were bits in there that raised my eyebrows and hackles, but nothing like what I encountered, alas, with ‘Tales of the South Pacific’.