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Thursday News: David Gilmour, professor of being racist and sexist

I’m not interested in teaching books by women. Virginia Woolf is the only writer that interests me as a woman writer, so I do teach one of her short stories. But once again, when I was given this job I said I would only teach the people that I truly, truly love. Unfortunately, none of those happen to be Chinese, or women.

There are men eating menstrual pads, and by the time my students get to that they’re ready. Roth has the best understanding of middle-aged sexuality I’ve ever come across.

….

I teach only the best. What happens with great literature is that the shadows on the pages move around.

But he is not racist or sexist or homophobic he says in an apology prompted by his publisher HarperCollins:

Q: Have you spoken to anyone from HarperCollins?

A: I talked to Patrick Crean. He was concerned that this was going to affect the general climate around the book, that some women might not like the book if they think that that’s my policy. And that’s one of the reasons that I’m apologizing. Normally I actually wouldn’t.

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

28 Comments

  1. Alison
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 05:49:24

    David Gilmour sounds delusional. What normal person says things like

    You have to have a doctorate to teach here, but they asked if I would teach a course, and I said I would. I’m a natural teacher, I was trained in television for many years. I know how to talk to a camera, therefore I know how to talk to a room of students. It’s the same thing.

    No David, it truly isn’t. It’s the difference between being a stage actor and a screen actor. And what kind of egoist says he is a natural teacher?

    David sounds like one of those sad wannabes who is too scared to have his own views so he just picks the most well-known proponents of a genre and says they are his favourites. He’s like a teenager who will only admit to liking obscure emo bands because it’s a credibility issue. And honestly bleating about reading Proust! It’s very childish. I honestly believe (as an English graduate with First Class Honours) that Proust is tedious in the extreme. I can read most things but after 75 pages of Cherchez … Perdu I had lost the will to live. I am sure that there are people who have read Proust and loved it but I believe there are many more who just say they have to make themselves appear more intellectual.

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  2. Carolyne
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 06:49:57

    @Alison: This is one of those cases where I’m going to completely ignore the guy jumping around trying to get attention.

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  3. Lammie
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 07:05:39

    David Gilmour is pretty well known in Canada. He used to work for the CBC (large public radio/tv broadcaster). I have not lived on Canada for a while, but I did enjoy his movie reviews and some of his books. I was shocked to read he said this, as it was not my opinion of him at all. He definitely seems to be in crisis management mode right now, as all of the online Canadian media sites seem to have an interview with him, back tracking. I was quite surprised that his original comments seem to indicate he knows of no Canadian women authors who are very good! I guess Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood aren’t worthy of notice. Of course, when I think back to my high school English classes, one year of which was entirely Canadian literature, it is the female authors who have stuck with me: Munro, Atwood, Margaret Laurence. David Gilmour is only a few years older than me – it is too bad he did not have the same experience.

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  4. cleo
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 07:19:18

    @ Carolyne – that’s my impulse too.

    I know nothing about him, so I don’t know if he’s known for being deliberately provocative or if he had a bad day, or if he’s just always a pompous ass, but he’s so over the top in that article that he sounds like a parody.

    I did enjoy the comments thread (not something I say often about a mainstream website) – fave exchange:
    - He should read Middlemarch.
    - Maybe he did and thinks George Elliot is a man.

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  5. Eliza Evans
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 07:22:51

    EATING menstrual pads? I just… I don’t even. I had to read that sentence three times before I could parse it. Then I literally gagged. That’s vile.

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  6. Carolyne
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 07:59:39

    @Eliza Evans: Real men are so tough they don’t even fear the scaaaaariest thing about those icky girls? Or maybe it’s a bizarre form of pica induced by iron deficiency. (Well, I said I’d ignore him, not my fellow commenters here, but I think I’d better step away from this whole shebang :) )

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  7. Tabs
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 08:13:13

    Gilmour’s comments made me laugh, but I didn’t find them particularly offensive. It didn’t come off to me as him saying women writers suck so much as him saying that the books he is personally passionate about (and thus wants to teach) are written by American and Russian middle-aged men almost exclusively.

    Also, the whole invterview seemed way too half-assed to take seriously even before he admitted that he really wasn’t paying attention during it and was too busy talking to his friend in French at the same time. (Another serious LOL moment for me there.)

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  8. Susanna Kearsley
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 08:19:49

    David Gilmour, in my view at least, has always had a very high opinion of David Gilmour. I wasn’t at all surprised by his comments in that interview.

    But THIS is the absolute best response I’ve seen to his statements. It’s written by a fellow University of Toronto professor, who linked to it on Twitter with the comment: “David Gilmour is not a professor of literature. A rant.”

    http://www.dispositio.net/archives/1688

    I think it’s totally brilliant. Also, I want to take a class with Professor Syme, now. His asides by Christopher Marlowe made me laugh out loud.

    Oh, and since Mr. Gilmour has now complained that his comments were taken out of context by the reporter, whom he dismissed as “a young woman who kind of wanted to make a little name for herself”, here’s a link to the full transcript of the interview, posted by the reporter’s boss: http://www.randomhouse.ca/hazlitt/blog/gilmour-transcript

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  9. Andrea D
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 08:58:01

    @Susanna Kearsley
    That was an awesome response. Thanks for the link. I was chortling to myself reading it.

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  10. Susanna Kearsley
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 09:02:10

    This is also a great rebuttal, by a woman who thinks David Gilmour’s glib advice to “go down the hall” may actually be a good idea:

    http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/campus-notes/2013/09/why-david-gilmours-advice-to-go-down-hall-isnt-so-bad

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  11. Isobel Carr
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 09:27:10

    @Susanna Kearsley: Thank you for the link to Professor Syme’s rant!!! “A true worker in the vineyard of the literary gods.” Brilliant take down.

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  12. leslie
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 09:37:21

    @Susanna Kearsley: Thank you! Syme’s rant was terrific!

    ReplyReply

  13. Dabney Grinnan
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 10:32:44

    The new Fire HDX looks great. Now tablet users will have to decide whether it’s a better overall product than the about to be released new iPad. I had planned to get an iPad mini but now, I’m not so sure.

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  14. Jess
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 11:02:07

    Thank you for the Syme post! It got at the exact things that bothered me about Gilmour’s thoughts on teaching. I try not to judge people by what they choose to read for fun, whether it be awesome, lame, or totally douchey. But the idea that Gilmour could be a “professor” and teach only the things he really enjoyed bothered me. As a librarian/professor, I have to teach even the things I don’t particularly like. I have to give students resources whose arguments I might not agree with. Because if I don’t, not only am providing my students with an incomplete educational experience, I’m also refusing to challenge myself by teaching things I don’t get as excited over. I really don’t think this interview or his “apology” will win Gilmour many popularity points in the English department.

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  15. lorelai
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 12:17:35

    This is not a comment on the David Gilmour article being featured, although it’s going to sound like it.

    I wish we lived in a culture where people seeking attention by saying/doing outrageous/offensive things were not rewarded by being given the very attention they seek, which only serves to give them reason to continue to say/do outrageous/offensive things. (See also: Miley Cyrus, various political pundits, etc.)

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  16. Charming Euphemism
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 12:27:43

    I LOLed at the Syme post, especially this:

    –There must be other authors who need the kind of pseudo-biographical rubbish Gilmour heaps on Chekhov, who apparently was “the coolest guy in literature.” (Christopher Marlowe called to complain: What makes Chekhov so cool? Whom did Chekhov ever kill? Did Chekhov ever catch a knife in the eye? Or get done for coining? Fuck that milktoast Chekhov.) –

    Fuck that milktoast Chekhov. Snicker.

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  17. Lada
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 13:17:05

    I have no interest in Gilmore or his views so am happily concentrating instead on the fact that yes, indeed. There are a host of new Penguin books available through OverDrive at my local library and I’m excited to try a couple of new-to-me authors I’ve been hesitating on. And I hope it helps other people discover some of my already favorite authors. I wonder if the 26x/year rule still applies because I plan on doing my best to return my ebooks early so that one copy becomes available for other readers quickly. I hope others do the same.

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  18. Jenns
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 14:17:02

    Lorelai: Yes! I was thinking the same thing (and Miley Cyrus also came to mind).

    ReplyReply

  19. Mitey
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 14:29:11

    Re: Gilmour
    Apparently his deal with the school was to teach whatever he wanted. OK. No problem.

    What nipped his literary butt was his total rudeness to the reporter who was interviewing him, but what took the huge hunk out of it was that appalling “apology” at how the resulting article made him look that displayed his mammoth sexism, greed, and arrogance, not necessarily in that order. What a douche!

    Yeah, he’s getting a lot of attention, but not, I think, selling books.

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  20. wkw
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 15:41:08

    Re: David Gilmour
    I don’t think it is necessary to waste many words on this, since almost everything necessary has been said by other clever people.
    http://www.dangerouswords.org/satira/woman-down-hall-responds-david-gilmour/

    ReplyReply

  21. Dangerous Words
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 16:30:05

    @wkw: Glad you enjoyed it!

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  22. Daniela
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 16:36:55

    @Eliza Evans:

    I think Anne Rice also used that in one of her vampire books and I’ve seen a few vampire stories that involved drinking menstrual blood. But I think it’s one think if a supernatural creature who drinks/eats human blood does it and another when a human male does it.

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  23. Janine
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 16:57:17

    Since no one has mentioned here I need to say how excited I am that Penguin will allow libraries to carry their ebooks. Yay!

    ETA: Just read that this has no effect on Random’s policies. Also, it appears the library books will only be available to kindle users via side loading. Oh well. I can deal with that if I have to.

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  24. Janine
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 17:03:40

    @Daniela: I’ve tried to scrub that scene in Memnoch the Devil from my mind ever since I read it, so I won’t thank you for the reminder.

    ReplyReply

  25. Lakaribane
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 18:28:50

    I have put “Buy a tablet” on my birthday wishlist for the holidays because I truly need something that gives me internet access AND lets me read ebooks.

    Could someone suggest to me which version of the Kindle Fire I should get, what with living in a almost-no WiFi third world country, please? I don’t know what “4G LTE” means but I know some of the ISP here are advertizing 4G (if it actually works, no idea). My current internet is 3G. TIA for your help.

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  26. library addict
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 20:07:13

    @Janine: Overdrive says sideloading for Kindles will no longer be required Overdrive

    I just tried to put in some buy requests at my library via Overdrive, but none of the Penguin books are showing up in the Additional Titles to Recommend menu yet :(

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  27. MikiS
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 23:07:04

    I think it sucks that Penguin put a year limit on the ebooks. I’d rather have them not be available at all than to validate that kind of crap.

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  28. Sandra Schwab
    Sep 27, 2013 @ 12:24:09

    @Janine:

    That scene (and that book – goodness!) was one of the reasons why I stopped reading Rice. I mean, I’m all in tune with my body (well, more or less) and everything, but that scene?? No, no, no.

    ReplyReply

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