Monday, December 24, 2007

Lunchtime read: The Black Madonna

This collection of short stories ends with a tale that highlights the differences between the masters and servants. Lessing is able to cover big topics in this collection around the concepts of equality, racism and freedom without ever having to resort to a lecturing style.

"The two little children would gaze at each other with a wide, interested gaze, and once Teddy put out his hand curiously to touch the black child’s cheeks and hair.
Gideon, who was watching, shook his head wonderingly, and said: ‘Ah, missus, these are both children, and one will grow up to be a Baas, and one will be a servant’."


In No Witchcraft for Sale a cook that has struck up a friendship with the boy of the house saves his sight when a tree snake spit in the Teddy’s eyes. He rushes out to get a root that will act as an antidote. The result is that the family are eternally grateful but then invite down a scientist who plans to turn the remedy into something that can be mass marketed. Gideon the cook refuses to help them and despite gentle ribbing about it he never reveals his screts to those that own the land but fail to understand it.

A review will follow the Christmas festivities…

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