Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Princess Sita

Exam Question: Compare and contrast strong women characters in the works of Poul Anderson and SM Stirling.

Answer: I am not going to compare and contrast them all right now but does anyone else out there want to tackle it?

Let us say something about Princess Sita in Stirling's The Peshawar Lancers (New York, 2003). First, Cassandra King tells Prince Charles:

"'That girl needs a man. And in the worst way.'" (p. 177)

Charles responds:

"'Has she been doing the thousand-hands-of-Pravati thing again?'" (ibid.)

- and reflects:

"Usually only a problem when she was bored, but..." (ibid.)

I confess to not understanding the use of the phrase "...the thousand-hands-of-Pravati..." in this context.

Secondly, Sita implausibly takes part in a raid on the house of a traitor. Immediately, after seeing one man killed by a blow to the face and another shot dead, she is able to lecture Henri on the mythological significance of Kali. Even more implausible? Or further evidence of how cool she is? I am still rereading but I seem to remember from the first time round that she got a man killed so how does she feel about that afterwards?

Thirdly, Sita is magnificently anti-racist.

14 comments:

  1. My assumption about the "thousand-hands" line is that it meant she constantly had her hands all over Cassandra (i.e., making lesbian or bisexual advances), to the point that it sometimes felt as if there were more than two hands there. I've seen a similar phrase for a man groping a woman: "more arms than an octopus." The "Parvati" clause, I figured, was simply a joke referring to the multi-limbed characteristic of some Hindu deities.

    It was certainly shown that Sita wasn't shy about *simulating* bisexuality.

    One thing I particularly recall amusing me was a comparison of Sita to Queen Victoria II, who reigned in the early-to-mid 20th of that time line and, as I told someone else, probably caused the word "Victorian" to take on a rather different meaning from what it does to us.

    The lecture might actually be Sita's way of distracting herself from how disturbed she was by the killing. Focusing on something neutral to keep from getting the shakes.

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  2. David,
    Thank you. There are indeed a few suggestive exchanges between Sita and Cassandra.
    Paul.

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    1. Hi, David and Paul!

      I've read THE PESHAWAR LANCERS twice before I started rereading it a third time this week. And I simply don't recall Princess Sita showing any signs of lesbianism. But, my memory might be at fault here.

      And one point about the princess' participation in the raid on the traitor's does not seem to have been noticed by either of you gentlemen. I mean the scolding Emperor John II gave to the princess not only for risking her life in ways she was not trained for, but also for how her acts led to the needless death of her bodyguard.

      That is, of course it was the soldier's duty to risk his life--BUT, John II did not approve of how Sita's actions led to the man's death when it was not necessary. The Emperor said it was part of a ruler's duty not to unnecessarily endanger the lives of those who served him.

      All this is from memory, I've not yet get gotten as far as the raid on the traitor's house.

      Sean

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  3. Sean,
    No Lesbianism - apart from this hint by Charles. But some conversation that could have led in different directions.
    I have just read past the King-Emperor's response to Sita's escapade.
    Paul.

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    1. Kaor, Paul!

      Ah, then it might have been just Prince Charles expressing some exasperation for his sister's willful behavior.

      And, I'm pretty sure you agreed with what the King-Emperor said about his daughter's irresponsible behavior.

      Sean

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  4. No *actual* lesbianism that I can recall, no -- but as I said, she's perfectly willing to *simulate* it to give people a false impression.

    Chapter 20, particularly, when she and Cassandra had a secret meeting with [deleted possible spoiler]. Not only did Sita (fluttering her eyelashes) tell the prim young Sikh guard officer that she felt the need to be alone with Cass, but just before returning to where the guard waited she made a point of giving Cassandra a kiss on the side of the neck, leaving obvious traces of lip rouge.

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    1. Hi, David!

      Ha, ha!!! Iow, the princess was simply practicing, in intelligence terms, MISDIRECTION. A mere pretense of being a lesbian.

      Sean

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    1. Kaor, Paul!

      I checked, and there Princess Sita was TEASING the sober Dr. Cassandra King by pretending to have a lesbian crush on her. Well, Sita was still a TEENAGER, after all!

      Sean

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  6. Sean,
    Yes, I was backing up David's point that Sita skillfully simulated Lesbianism when it suited her. I have got a lot out of rereading ...LANCERS so soon and am sorry to be near the end of it again.
    Paul.

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    1. Kaor, Paul!

      I agree, THE PESHAWAR LANCERS is richly well worth reading over and over. And, this time, you are beating to the end of the book! I've reread not quite a hundred pages yet. (Smiles)

      Some of the ideas mentioned or alluded to in PESHAWAR seems worth more extended commentary. For example, I have in mind how Count Ignatieff referred to Our Lord as the "traitor Christ." Naturally, people who will seriously worship Satan as the "True God" of the world will have only revulsion to what I hold to be the true God and Christianity. Many of the Russians seem to have fallen for the delusion that life and the physical world is loathsome and vile, that only death and damnation is "good."

      Another idea in PESHAWAR from past readings is how the Anglican Church of India was debating on whether or not to accept many Hindu ideas about God or the gods as true. That is, coming dangerously close to syncretism, to becoming less CHRISTIAN. Something which Henri de Vascogne, a French Catholic, firmly rejected. But, I've not yet reached that part of the book, else I would quote the relevant text.

      Sean

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  7. Sean,
    I have just posted about what I regard as good and bad religions.
    Paul.

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    1. Kaor, Paul!

      Yes, I saw that, and commented on your "False Religions" piece.

      Sean

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