Tuesday, 7 July 2015

The Raj And The Commonwealth

The Commonwealth of New Virginia, like the Angrezi Raj, is blessed with anti-racist leaders. While Adrienne Rolfe, granddaughter of the Founder, is picking a small espionage team, her South African bodyguard interjects:

"'Wait a bliddy minute, miss, not a kaffir-'"
-SM Stirling, Conquistador (New York, 2004), p. 401 -

- to which Adrienne responds:

"'Botha, don't be more of an idiot than God compels you to be...'" (ibid.)

After a moment, he must reply, "'You're in charge, miss.'" (ibid.)

He does at least understand about obeying orders. Adrienne was picking a man purely on the basis of his ability and trustworthiness so she is understandably annoyed when an issue is made of his skin color.

"...bliddy..." captures the South African accent quite well. Another characteristic vowel pronunciation is "bleck" instead of "black."

For an exactly parallel scene in the Raj, where the offensive term is not "...kaffir..." but "...stinking coolies...," see here.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I find Piet (Afrikaans for "Peter"?) Botha an interesting character in CONQUISTADOR. Maybe not exactly LIKABLE (except by his wife and children) but interesting, even a man worthy of respect. Despite his "brutal" appearance Piet Botha is more intelligent than some might think, both here, where he submitted to Adrienne's orders, and in other parts of the book. In the "Interlude" beginning on page 326, we see Botha rejecting Schalk var der Merwe's nostalgia about what the Boers had lost in the original, FirstSide South Africa, or his suggestions about trying to start over again in the Southern Africa of SecondSide. Piet's view was that the Boers who had migrated to New Virginia should set aside such hopes and settle down to building new lives in the Commonwealth. Piet was right and Schalk was wrong.


Paul Shackley said...

Yes, a complex character as we expect in a substantial novel.
I think that "Piet" is "Peter."

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I agree, a complex and interesting character. And I should have said "page 226," not 326.