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Mary Sue meets Simone de Beauvoir

Teresa Nielsen Hayden's blog, Making Light, is currently having a discussion of Mary Sue fiction (which also thoroughly explains what Mary Sue fiction is, so I won't do that here).

I made this comment.

Excellent post. I'd never heard the term Mary Sue before, but I've long noticed the wish-fulfillment aspect of fiction. The first time it really hit me was while reading John Fowles's Mantissa.

I'm suspecting some sexism in some applications of this concept, because it seems to me that there's a fine and mighty tradition of male authors writing heroic characters who influence the world beyond what seems likely for most people, and people seem to accept that as normal. But now that we have women writing such things (e.g., Laurell Hamilton), it's a bit more eyebrow-raising, eh? (I'm not suggesting that's the only angle on the Mary Sue phenomenon, but...)


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 5th, 2003 09:30 pm (UTC)
I think of it as wish-fulfilling insertion, too, but TNH's post says she's been using "Mary Sue" as shorthand for J. Perfect Character in submissions. I can see it might be useful for that, but just the same it's making a term less specific, and I never like that much. (Mary Sue still is and should be distinct from self-insert, which can actually be good, at least in theory. We just need a third term.)
Dec. 5th, 2003 11:08 pm (UTC)
Some of the folks in the blog comments were trying to apply Mary Sue to mainstream fiction (e.g., Anita Blake).
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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