Katherine Stuart, October 26, 2008 (view all comments by Katherine Stuart)
There’s nothing like reading a book I loved as a child to see how much my tastes have matured and been refined. The writing is not noteworthy or even engaging.
A few years ago I read an article for a class I was taking that harshly criticized the Nancy Drew series for its white upper middle class elitist tone. So of course I spent most of the book noticing how valid the critique is. The negative view of the old, aristocratic class in all its decay; the idea that the poor just need a helping hand – a little lift; the portrayal of the African-American servant as being totally belligerent and complicit in the belligerence of her employer. Obviously the Drews were wise to hire someone white as their servant. These attitudes and unspoken comparisons are obvious.
What really caught my attention though is the optimism the writer (for whom “Keene” is only a pseudonym of course) has toward technology. This attitude that is so prevalent in the early twentieth century. A segment of the society, apparently a much larger segment than exists today, believed unequivocally that technology would be the panacea to all the world’s ills. Telephones, electricity, the scientific method. As much as I view technological progress with the jaded eye of my generation I must admit it was a sweet nostalgia to remember once upon a time we, my fellow countrymen and mostly forbearers, believed with untarnished innocence that we were on the verge of utopia heralded by the harnessing of electricity for everyday use and the advent of the automobile. For that optimism alone this was worthy of a couple of hours of an evening.
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