Tuesday, 11 June 2013
Hauksberg And Persis on Starkad
I say, that Hauksberg is a dashed decent chap, forgiving his concubine, Persis d'Io, for her fling with Flandry, even while she and Flandry tie him up so that they can make their escape - although, in my opinion, there is nothing to forgive. The married Hauksberg is a monogamist, rather than a bigamist or polygamist, but he is not "faithful" since he has a concubine.
However, in any case, human beings are not naturally monogamous. Anderson imagined a naturally monogamous race in "The Ways of Love" and that race's behavior indeed differed from ours. Among human beings, patriarchal monogamy was imposed by property-owning men who wanted to bequeath their property to identifiable, preferably "legitimate," male heirs. We remain able to love different people at different times or more than one person at the same time and to enjoy sex with more than one person. There is nothing natural about exclusive monogamy. It has not always existed and need not continue to exist into an indefinite future although it would still be around in a set-up like the Terran Empire.
My main problem with Hauksberg is his refusal, even when Flandry has fully exposed the Merseian plot on Starkad, to acknowledge that the Merseians would have continued to withhold information about the infalling rogue planet until it had detonated Saxo and destroyed the Terran fleet. What universe is the guy living in? If the Merseians had revealed any sign of goodwill, then Abrams and Flandry would have been able to re-assess their attitude to the gatortails in the light of this new evidence. If those on the other side of the argument are incapable of making a similar re-assessment when appropriate, then dialogue is impossible.
Meanwhile, however, Persis is intelligent, perceptive and observant. Watching Ondine, a ballet about a mermaid, reminds her of how far they are from home. And Flandry, visiting a city of genuine Starkadian sea-dwellers, thinks, "...what a place to stage that ballet!" (Poul Anderson, Ensign Flandry, London, 1976, p. 81)