Monstrous Regiment Discussion *Spoilers*

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Monstrous Regiment Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby Tonyblack » Sun Sep 05, 2010 11:14 pm

**Warning**

This thread is for discussing Monstrous Regiment in some depth. If you haven’t read the book then read on at your own risk – or, better still, go and read the book and join in the fun.

For those of us that are going to join in the discussion, here are a few guidelines:

Please feel free to make comparisons to other Discworld books, making sure you identify the book and the passage you are referring to. Others may not be as familiar with the book you are referencing, so think before you post.

Sometimes we’ll need to agree to disagree – only Terry knows for sure what he was thinking when he wrote the books and individuals members may have widely different interpretations – so try to keep the discussion friendly.

We may be discussing a book that you don’t much care for – don’t be put off joining in the discussion. If you didn’t care for the book, then that in itself is a good topic for discussion.

Please note: there is no time limit to this discussion. Please feel free to add to it at any time - especially if you've just read the book.

And finally:

Please endeavour to keep the discussion on topic. If necessary I will step in and steer it back to the original topic – so no digressions please!

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Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett
Originally published 2003

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Introduction

The country of Borogravia is at war! There’s nothing new about that; Borogravia has been at war for as long as anyone can remember. What’s different this time is that the war threatens Ankh-Morpork’s Clacks towers and therefore Ankh-Morpork’s ability to talk to the rest of the world. So suddenly the never-ending war has become the focus of the whole of the Disc due to events being covered by the Ankh-Morpork Times.

Introduced into the conflict are a series of recruits who, for their own reasons have joined the army.

It’s said that the army will make a man of you – well not this bunch!
-------------------------
I want to thank Jan Van Quirm for offering to write an introduction to this book. Thanks Jan! :D There’s a lot there for us to talk about.

Jan Van Quirm wrote:This is a book about war and women at war - on the surface at least. On first reading, I didn't like this book at all, but couldn't quite put my finger on why. I've now read it for the third time and I still don't like it much, but I feel happier about that, because I think I've finally worked out why I'm never going to like it at all. At the convention I was talking to someone who said that he thought the whole thing about women pretending to be men (and later pretending to be women again) was 'awesome' - I said I thought the cross-dressing deception aspect was far too laboured, and that I found that extremely irritating. And then, on the way home, I read the bit about the Miracle of the Turkey and I had a re-think.
Monstrous Regiment wrote:She [Polly] shut her eyes and tried to breathe normally. This was it this was it this was it! This was where she found out.
What to remember what to remember what to remember... when the metal meets the meat... be holding the metal.
She could taste metal in her mouth.
The man would walk right past her. He'd be alert, but not that alert. A slash would be better than a stab. Yes, a good swipe at head height would kill...
... some mother's son, some sister's brother, some lad who'd followed for the shilling and his first new suit. If only she'd been trained, if only she'd had a few weeks stabbing straw men until she could believe that all men were made of straw...'
She froze. Down the path, still as a tree, stood Wazzer. As soon as the scout reached Polly's tree, she'd be seen.
She'd have to do it now. Perhaps that's why men did it. You didn't do it to save duchesses, or countries. You killed the enemy to stop him killing your mates, that they in turn might save you...

Like Jingo and Small Gods, Monstrous Regiment focuses on the futility of war. Doesn't it? Jingo is about politics and going to war over territory and 'principles'. Small Gods is about religion and propaganda and manipulation to justify starting a holy war. I don't think those apply to this book as such. This is a book about soldiering and the realities of war, when the war has gone past all reason and justification, to a point where it is simply the way things are and have to be, because not fighting back is unthinkable. To the point where it doesn't even matter too much who you are fighting against anymore. Or even who you're fighting for.

How are soldiers (male or female) any different to murderers? How can someone bring themselves to kill people they've never met? People who have never done them any real personal harm? People who, under different circumstances, they might have had a friendly drink with? Being a soldier is a condition that transcends gender. Being a soldier is ultimately about becoming a sanctioned killer, one who can do so to order.

That's why I don't like Monstrous Regiment. Because this book, despite being very funny in places and making all kinds of points about how women are as good or better than men; about how a vile, heartless theocracy can turn everyday living into dust; how nasty old gossips can drive social punishment into inflicting the worst obscenities of body, mind and soul in the name of reforming 'bad' girls like Tonker, Lofty and Wazzer; is, in the end about how sentient beings can become killers, given the right circumstances. Given the right circumstances, anyone can find a reason to kill.

The righteous killing-frenzy, whether that's on the battlefield or in a house of 'correction' or even down the pub. We all need to be 'killers' at times, so surely it's best to have trained ones. Soldiers. That's why I'll never like this book, because it tells the real, profound truth about 'war' and how anyone can justify themselves into becoming a killer, an arsonist, a bodyguard, a mentally disturbed messiah for the downtrodden, or simply someone who needs to 'save' someone they love. This book's about how we all can become monsters and will choose our own battlefields to celebrate that condition. That's why I can't like it.

I think I think too much! :lol: :wink:


Want to write the introduction for the next discussion (The Colour of Magic)? PM me and let me know if you’d like to – first come first served. :wink:
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Re: Monstrous Regiment Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby swreader » Mon Sep 06, 2010 2:00 am

Jan Van Quirm wrote:This is a book about war and women at war - on the surface at least. On first reading, I didn't like this book at all, but couldn't quite put my finger on why. I've now read it for the third time and I still don't like it much, but I feel happier about that, because I think I've finally worked out why I'm never going to like it at all. ...

This is a book about soldiering and the realities of war, when the war has gone past all reason and justification, to a point where it is simply the way things are and have to be, because not fighting back is unthinkable. To the point where it doesn't even matter too much who you are fighting against anymore. Or even who you're fighting for.

How are soldiers (male or female) any different to murderers? How can someone bring themselves to kill people they've never met? People who have never done them any real personal harm? People who, under different circumstances, they might have had a friendly drink with? Being a soldier is a condition that transcends gender. Being a soldier is ultimately about becoming a sanctioned killer, one who can do so to order.

That's why I don't like Monstrous Regiment. Because this book, despite being very funny in places and making all kinds of points about how women are as good or better than men; about how a vile, heartless theocracy can turn everyday living into dust; how nasty old gossips can drive social punishment into inflicting the worst obscenities of body, mind and soul in the name of reforming 'bad' girls like Tonker, Lofty and Wazzer; is, in the end about how sentient beings can become killers, given the right circumstances. Given the right circumstances, anyone can find a reason to kill.

The righteous killing-frenzy, whether that's on the battlefield or in a house of 'correction' or even down the pub. We all need to be 'killers' at times, so surely it's best to have trained ones. Soldiers. That's why I'll never like this book, because it tells the real, profound truth about 'war' and how anyone can justify themselves into becoming a killer, an arsonist, a bodyguard, a mentally disturbed messiah for the downtrodden, or simply someone who needs to 'save' someone they love. This book's about how we all can become monsters and will choose our own battlefields to celebrate that condition. That's why I can't like it.

I think I think too much! :lol: :wink:


You raise some interesting points, Jan, but I don't think you've read the book enough. :lol: :wink:

I've read it over & over and I've come to think this is one of Pratchett's best books because it seems almost boringly simple (all the recruits and the Sergeant are really women) but beneath that Pratchett deals with so much more. (eg. Is war a result of testosterone --real or socks? Why do most societies arrange to keep women "in their place"? What is the role of belief & religion in war? What happens when your god dies?, etc.) I think that Pratchett, in an apparently simple but actually extremely complex tale, is talking about much more than just war and soldiering.

I think, Jan, that you have overlooked the significance of what Pratchett is doing in a couple of later scenes. For example--
...it seems to me that if you are still a general then I'm still a corporal, sir. I can't speak for the others, but the reason I'm holding out, General, is that I kissed the Duchess and she knew what I was and she . . . didn't turn away, if you understand me. ...a day or two ago I'd have rescued my brother and gone off home and I'd have thought it a job well done. I just wanted to be safe. But now I see there's no safety while there's all this . . this stupidity. So I think I've got to stay and be a part of it. Er . . try to make it less stupid, I mean. And I want to be me, not Oliver.


And then there is what the Duchess says,
...And now I demand that you do what the ignorant might feel is the easier thing. You must refrain from dying in battle. Revenge is not redress. Revenge is a wheel, ans it turns backwards. The dead are not your masters.


Pratchett is building on the anti-war themes of Jingo (nationalism or jingoism does not justify war) and the justification of war by relgion of Small Gods. I think that Pratchett is exploring when war, which as you point out is indeed sanctioned killing, is justified. There is (literally) so much more in the book, after the miracle of the turkey--which is a brilliant description of warfare. And, if war as seen in Band of Brothers is representative, the fact is that as a soldier you kill to save your mates, though you may have joined up for other reasons. I think, Jan, that you're failing to take into account the last and most significant parts of the book, which come after the part you quoted.

Let me pose a couple of things to think about. What is the significance of the fact that except for the explosion to get them out of the kitchen--which may not have killed anyone--none of the girls actually kills anybody? And when they are not "led by the socks" they use their brains to accomplish what needs to be done.? What is the reason that Polly goes back into the service--taking up the role of Sgt. Jackrum? Does that change your view of this as a book about killing? Finally, why is it called "Monsterious Regiment"?
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Postby poohcarrot » Mon Sep 06, 2010 12:24 pm

I agree with Jan. This is my least favourite DW book. It's just too dark and depressing.

In the book it appears that people join the army because of religious grounds, because of a mis-guided patriotism, or because they live in dead end towns with dead-end lives and the only to get out is through military service - so pretty much like in the US/UK. (Not Polly's regiment, but the people before them)

I didn't like the ending. I think Polly should have left the army. By staying in she's just glorifying everything the book had been against. She can't make it less stupid alone, because as a soldier she'll have to do exactly what she's told to do.

Just because Polly didn't kill anyone doesn't make her immune to the attrocities of war. She saw death and mutilation first hand and that should have been enough to make her leave the army.

The book says that women are equally as stupid as men in regards to war. The whole farcical war had been run by women and they made no better a job of it than men would do.
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Mon Sep 06, 2010 12:46 pm

Sharlene - you should see my dog-eared copy of MR! :lol: I had loads of quotes marked after The Miracle of the Turkey that I could have included but didn't because I didn't want to provoke too much comment too early.

The Miracle of the Turkey may pale in comparison to what happens afterwards, BUT (a very big 'but' indeed) that moment is the turning point of the book for Polly in her search for Paul. So why is that single moment important?

It's the moment she knows that she's becoming a soldier - she wasn't one before that point as you point out in your own second quote. At that moment - just before the turkey broke cover and provided the necessary distraction for the Zlobenian sentry. She would have killed the snetry to avoid being spotted on her own account - also because Wazzer wouldn't be able to react as well, but also because their mission was in danger and so was she. It's also where she starts to believe in Wazzer's allegiance to the Duchess enabling Wazzer to become stronger in her own belief and prophecies as the Duchess begins, like Om to acquire a valid godhead.

The 'normal' reasons for war are of course all in place already but in a ridiculous manner - the religious aspect being the more ridiculous because even the Borogravians know how stupid the edicts of Nuggan are and mostly ignore the more recent ones but are still 'married' to his original misogynistic proclamations that keep half the population oppressed or inducing religious mania as a self-preservative survival tactic. The Valley of the Kneck provides the territorial justification and that too is silly, but we still see that today in Roundworld (half of Africa's wars have begun in the stupid mannaer that the European colonialists re-drew their maps as Africa opened up in the 1800s - the rivers and other geographic features formed natural borders and the tribes mostly observed the premise that they held one bank and the other tribes the opposite one. Borders don't have to be rigid in other words until some numptie starts top make an issues about it.

I get all that and stand by my own assertion that MR isn't really that concerned with male/female roles in war but about what drives us to be something most rational people would avoid like the plague. Even Igorina reaches the point where she'll kill 'for the greater good' when Maledicta's about to slip off the black ribbon wagon - that's a far more interesting element that gender politics :wink:
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Postby Tonyblack » Mon Sep 06, 2010 12:52 pm

Nothing wrong with dark and depressing. :wink: I like the darkness of some of the Discworld books.

This isn't, an anti military story so much as one that questions a long, protracted war that drains the resources of a country to maintain it. The people at home are starving to death just to keep a stalemate in place. Those resources include the young men of the country to the point where there aren't any left.

The religious aspect of this book reminds me a whole lot of Catholicism - where prayers are made to lesser deities in the hope that they will somehow be dealt with without actually bothering God Himself. In this case I'd say that the Duchess was something of a cross between the Virgin Mary and Queen Victoria, with Wazzer being a Joan of Arc like figure. The Abominations are somewhat Catholic-like as well - with a Discworld spin to them.

The important difference between Polly and the girls that go back to the army is that they go back as women - not as women pretending to be men as is the case with the High Command. Plus Polly is going back with a copy of Jackrum's notebook.

Polly has found something that she is incredibly good at. She is a natural sergeant and as anyone who has served in the armed forces will know - it takes a certain sort of soldier to be a sergeant. Why shouldn't she seek a career in something she's so good at? Certainly not because she's a woman. :)
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Mon Sep 06, 2010 10:18 pm

:shock: I hate it when we agree smartypants! :lol:

There's dark and depressing and too close to the bone. The soldiering aspect I can take up to a point although it makes me furious at times with the Band of Brothers side of things (I have a very good friend out in Afghanistan at present whose younger brother was killed out there 2 years ago and he still volunteered to go even though he's not much younger than me with a pension in sight and 2 teenage sons who he has assiduously kept from following him into the army... :roll: ) because, like Tony says you do have to be a very strong person to be a sergeant and bridge the gap between integrating raw recruits and keeping the rancid in the brain department officers from making too many gaffes. :? So Polly's return to the army isn't too unexpected and if she continued to foster a low-key non-violent (relatively) approach to keep the top brass 'honest' then I can see the lure if not the logic... :roll:

It's the situation with Lofty, Tonker and especially Wazzer however, that really makes me feel really uncomfortable in MR and that's something personal rather than 'authentic' having seen similar casualities of public so-called 'care' in the courts. That's a whole different sort of story which I agree needs to be aired very thoroughly but, on this occasion, I think that a Discworld novel is not the vehicle to do that effectively or successfully.

Terry's proved that you can debunk and satirise all kinds of subjects and 'traditions' through humour but how can you be satirical about young girls who are used as slaves of the most menial sort and endure rape and all kinds of psychological abuse as well as physical - there's nothing remotely funny in that. I also can't see that Terry has thoroughly condemned the abusers in having Wazzer, as the most abused girl, creeping out her fellow recruits at first in the 'Joan of Arc' role. She's actually not advocating fighting at all and her ending is the one that's truly upsetting in that she's effectively patted on the head once the truce is confirmed and then packed off to a nice suite in General Froc's household - isn't that more than a little like house arrest for a dangerously liberal prophet?

That's simple realism rather than satirising and in that ending Terry's observations that nothing's essentially changed in Borogravia's politics is also lacking any real humourous examination/outcome. It's just plain sad at the inevitability of the status quo continuing ad nauseum with only 'little' changes in that women can now openly throw their lives away as cannon fodder as much as their menfolk do. It's a well written, observed and insightful book, but it's placement in Discworld as a genre just doesn't work for me and I can't/won't laugh at it in the most important places.
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Postby poohcarrot » Mon Sep 06, 2010 11:50 pm

Four interesting quotes from L-space

1. The title of this book is a reference to the pamphlet The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women, written by John Knox in 1558, complaining about the sudden appearance of female monarchs such as Elizabeth of England and Mary of Scotland pre-empting the natural position and authority of men.


2. "I am to take command of the Army,' said Wazzer."
Jeanne d'Arc, aka Joan of Arc or St. Joan, led the French army against the English while dressed as a man, and believed she heard the voice of God.


3. 'Sweet Polly Oliver' tells the story of a woman who dresses as a male soldier in order to follow her true love into the army:
"As sweet Polly Oliver lay musing in bed,
A sudden strange fancy came into her head.
'Nor father nor mother shall make me false prove,
I'll 'list as a soldier, and follow my love."

4. "Much ado, in fact, about nothing."
A Shakespeare play in which women dress as men, and which includes a character named Benedick
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Postby poohcarrot » Tue Sep 07, 2010 1:34 am

I reckon the whole book is Terry Pratchett's protest against the invasion of Iraq.

It was written and published in 2003, the year of the invasion. It is an anti-war book. On page 101 of the hardback jackrum says "Shock and awe" - a direct reference to the Iraq invasion. 8)
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Postby Tonyblack » Tue Sep 07, 2010 6:03 am

The songs mentioned in the book.

There are several songs mentioned and most of them seem to be real Roundworld songs.

Wikipedia wrote:Sweet Polly Oliver

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sweet Polly Oliver is an English folk song, dating from at least 1840. It is also known as "Pretty Polly Oliver".
It is one of the best known of a number of folk songs describing woman disguising themselves as men to join the army.

The song is mentioned in Terry Pratchett's Monstrous Regiment, as the song Polly Perks remembered from her childhood, which inspires her to choose "Oliver" as her military name.

Thomas Root wrote a symphonic band arrnagement of Sweet Polly Oliver.

As sweet Polly Oliver lay musing in bed,
A sudden strange fancy came into her head.
"Nor father nor mother shall make me false prove,
I'll 'list as a soldier, and follow my love."

So early next morning she softly arose,
And dressed herself up in her dead brother's clothes.
She cut her hair close, and she stained her face brown,
And went for a soldier to fair London Town.

Then up spoke the sergeant one day at his drill,
"Now who's good for nursing? A captain, he's ill."
"I'm ready," said Polly. To nurse him she's gone,
And finds it's her true love all wasted and wan.

The first week the doctor kept shaking his head,
"No nursing, young fellow, can save him," he said.
But when Polly Oliver had nursed him back to life
He cried, "You have cherished him as if you were his wife".

O then Polly Oliver, she burst into tears
And told the good doctor her hopes and her fears,
And very shortly after, for better or for worse,
The captain took joyfully his pretty soldier nurse.


Wikipedia wrote:The World Turned Upside Down
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The World Turned Upside Down is an English ballad. It was first published on a broadside in 1643 as a protest against the policies of Oliver Cromwell relating to the celebration of Christmas.

Cromwell believed the holiday should be a solemn occasion, and outlawed traditional English Christmas celebrations. There are several versions of the lyrics. It is sung to the tune of another ballad, "When the King Enjoys His Own Again".

Tradition has it that when Lord Cornwallis surrendered at the Siege of Yorktown (1781) the British band played this tune, although there is no conclusive evidence to support this.

The song was recorded by Chumbawamba on their album English Rebel Songs 1381-1914. This song was recorded by Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band on their album "Hang Up Sorrow and Care".

Lyrics

Listen to me and you shall hear, news hath not been this thousand year:
Since Herod, Caesar, and many more, you never heard the like before.
Holy-dayes are despis'd, new fashions are devis'd.
Old Christmas is kickt out of Town.
Yet let's be content, and the times lament, you see the world turn'd upside down.

The wise men did rejoyce to see our Savior Christs Nativity:
The Angels did good tidings bring, the Sheepheards did rejoyce and sing.
Let all honest men, take example by them.
Why should we from good Laws be bound?
Yet let's be content, and the times lament, you see the world turn'd upside down.

Command is given, we must obey, and quite forget old Christmas day:
Kill a thousand men, or a Town regain, we will give thanks and praise amain.
The wine pot shall clinke, we will feast and drinke.
And then strange motions will abound.
Yet let's be content, and the times lament, you see the world turn'd upside down.

Our Lords and Knights, and Gentry too, doe mean old fashions to forgoe:
They set a porter at the gate, that none must enter in thereat.
They count it a sin, when poor people come in.
Hospitality it selfe is drown'd.
Yet let's be content, and the times lament, you see the world turn'd upside down.

The serving men doe sit and whine, and thinke it long ere dinner time:
The Butler's still out of the way, or else my Lady keeps the key,
The poor old cook, in the larder doth look,
Where is no goodnesse to be found,
Yet let's be content, and the times lament, you see the world turn'd upside down.

To conclude, I'le tell you news that's right, Christmas was kil'd at Naseby fight:
Charity was slain at that same time, Jack Tell troth too, a friend of mine,
Likewise then did die, rost beef and shred pie,
Pig, Goose and Capon no quarter found.
Yet let's be content, and the times lament, you see the world turn'd upside down.


The source for the following is from L-Space

'The Devil Shall Be My Sergeant' (known as 'Rogue's March'):

I left my home and I left my job
Went and joined the army
If I knew then what I know now
I wouldn't have been so barmy.

Poor old soldier, poor old soldier
If I knew then what I know now
I wouldn't have been so barmy.
[...]
Fifty I got for selling me coat
Fifty for me blankets
If ever I 'list for a soldier again
The devil shall be me sergeant.


'Johnny Has Gone For a Soldier' (also known as 'Shule Agra', which is badly anglicised Irish for "Walk, My Love"):

With fife and drum he marched away
He would not heed what I did say
He'll not come back for many a day
Johnny has gone for a soldier

Shule shule shule shule agra
Sure a sure and he loves me
When he comes back he'll marry me
Johnny has gone for a soldier


'The Girl I Left Behind Me' (many versions exist):

I'm lonesome since I cross'd the hills,
And o'er the moor that's sedgy;
With heavy thoughts my mind is fill'd,
Since I parted with my Naggy
When e'er I return to view the place,
The tears doth fall and blind me,
When I think on the charming grace
Of the girl I left behind me.
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Postby Tonyblack » Tue Sep 07, 2010 6:29 am

Jan, regarding the girls at the workhouse place - I'm almost certain that Terry is referencing the Magdalene Asylums in Ireland (he even names one of the girls Magda) and that fits in somewhat with the Catholic theme that I mentioned earlier. Although these places were not limited to Ireland or to Catholicism, there was a particular case in the 90s of over a hundred unmarked graves in the grounds of of such a place when it was sold for redevelopment.

It is horrible and despicable, but although Terry uses humour in his books, he often writes about dark subjects that are sometimes a little hidden. Terry writes about human beings - warts and all and the way that we treat each other. This book is certainly in keeping with that.

Pooh - while I agree about the Iraq invasion (I noticed the 'shock and awe' comment too), I think it's a lot more than that. There are all sorts of wars referenced in this - including Vietnam. But such things as Jackrum wanting to kill the captured prisoner is a problem that the military have had for as long as there have been armies.

Take Agincourt for example. It was the practice during the 100 Years War to take prisoners (if they were wealthy) and then, after the battle was over they would be sold back for a ransom. In the battle of Agincourt, a whole load of French nobles were taken prisoner during the first attack and they were taken to a holding area to the rear of the British lines. There was an absolute fortune there in ransom, but what Henry had effectively done was to surround himself with French (there were so many) and he was concerned that the prisoners might take up arms during one of the attacks. So he had all the prisoners executed - something that he has been criticised for ever since. It was an atrocity - but Henry considered it necessary. In much the same way, Jackrum thought it necessary to kill the prisoner. They couldn't keep him a prisoner and he was too dangerous to them to let go.

And while I agree that A-M getting involved is somewhat like Iraq - it wouldn't be the first time that mighty powers have got involved in a small war because of a vested interest.
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Postby poohcarrot » Tue Sep 07, 2010 11:08 am

I have a theory, which as soon as I've finished working on, will post. 8)

Tony seems to be half way there, but isn't making the next logical step. :lol:
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Tue Sep 07, 2010 11:36 am

Tonyblack wrote:Jan, regarding the girls at the workhouse place - I'm almost certain that Terry is referencing the Magdalene Asylums in Ireland (he even names one of the girls Magda) and that fits in somewhat with the Catholic theme that I mentioned earlier. Although these places were not limited to Ireland or to Catholicism, there was a particular case in the 90s of over a hundred unmarked graves in the grounds of of such a place when it was sold for redevelopment.


*Nods* :cry: That was one of the things that stopped any interest in any religious hierarchy literally dead. I went to an all girls grammar school and some girls went 'missing' on a semi-regular basis to those kinds of places to have their babies and get them adopted... They usually came back (if they were catholics) depending how old they were - that also revealed another dirty great big somersaulting of common humanity in the following ways

1) if they were over GCE 'O' level age (15-16) they weren't allowed back especially if they were on scholarships - non-catholics couldn't get scholarships...
2) Catholics over 16 (whether or not on scholarship) were 'encouraged' to go to 6th form college or other schools if they needed to get A level GCEs
3) Non-catholics of any age were generally not allowed back at all and presumably were lucky enough not to be sent to the 'bad girls' special school but to some other disciplinary establishment. :roll:
4) the worst one. If they had an abortion it was instant expulsion no exceptions :evil:

I try not to think about this one too much as it was usually the older girls who 'disgraced' the Catholic girlhood myth, but the abortion incident was a contemporary of the age of 12 in the class above me. Some of the catholic bad girls were also 'inmates' at the local orphanage - heaven knows what happened to them afterwards... :(

So this whole area of MR is just too 'real' for me in a way that Jingo and Small Gods are not. Intellectually it's not Terry's worst book in terms of writing excellence but, as a fantasy satire, I don't want it to work at all I suppose. It's too 'small' and ordinary in focus I suppose and I don't like having to remember some things done for social reasons above public/political issues. We need armies of trained killers regrettably, but when the system is the ultimate killer for the less fortunate portions of society it's too horrible to satirise that we have and continue to churn out people who have already been demolished before they reach adulthood
"Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.” George Bernard Shaw
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Postby joemcf » Tue Sep 07, 2010 5:35 pm

I really enjoyed monstrous regiment, though tbh i found the endless discovery of..well...discovering that all the soldiers were woman quite tedious and predictable. It became a bit boring.

However, there are strokes of genius in the book too. One of my favourite scenes deals with the soldiers "pretending" to be women to storm a castle, and then they get caught as the guards think they men. How they get in is hilarious.

But my favourite line comes at the end, when Jacktrum is told by Polly not to tell her son that she is his mother, but his battle worn father, i felt it summed up a lot of the books point on gender equality, or at least the lack of it, and the scepticism of women in the army.
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Postby Tonyblack » Tue Sep 07, 2010 6:27 pm

I thought the whole thing about them all being women was over the top the first time I read the book (I really didn't care too much for it on the first reading), but later realised that Terry had to make them all women to really hammer home his point - that there were no more men to recruit. It may seem far-fetched, but it's satire and therefore allowed. :wink:
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Tue Sep 07, 2010 7:47 pm

What about Strappi? Having the only man in the recruitment troop be a 'political' was vital I think, and waiting for him to come back in and dob them all in to the top brass was something that I did look forward to having unfold but again that seemed to go off 'half-cocked' *sorry!* :P and he was just given the bum's rush out of the presence of the feminine top brass (not all of whom were women of course and thank heaven for that at least) and then nothing at all.

What happened to him? If we're told Wazzer was taken into safe custody then what happened to the cowardly little rat? Terry's done as good a job as he can with satirising the women as men strand (and I've found that fairly tedious every single time I've read it) but he's working far to hard at that for my taste. :(
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