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Bill_T
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Middle Chapters Discussion: The Novel and History

Middlesex is set against the backdrop of several historical events: the war between Greece and Turkey, the rise of the Nation of Islam, World War II, and the Detroit riots. How does history shape the lives of the characters in the novel?



Note: This discussion topic is particularly suitable for readers who have read more deeply into Middlesex, through the end of Book Three. If you wish to discuss plot elements introduced later in the book, consider posting in a separate thread.

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bentley
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Re: Middle Chapters Discussion: The Novel and History

[ Edited ]

Bill_T wrote:
Middlesex is set against the backdrop of several historical events: the war between Greece and Turkey, the rise of the Nation of Islam, World War II, and the Detroit riots. How does history shape the lives of the characters in the novel?



Note: This discussion topic is particularly suitable for readers who have read more deeply into Middlesex, through the end of Book Three. If you wish to discuss plot elements introduced later in the book, consider posting in a separate thread.

Click on "Reply" to post your thoughts about this discussion topic, or click "New Message" on the main page to start a new topic thread.




I think I commented about a history thread and there already is one here. The war between Greece and Turkey was key. I indicated in another thread that I read that 100,000 Greeks were killed in that war by the Turks. The accounts were graphic in the book and unsettling; especially since others just stood on the sidelines and let it happen. I was wondering if others had more historical information related to this war and whether the 100,000 number was accurate. I will comment on the other historical events cited as I come across them in the novel.

As Cal narrated: "Living sends a person not out into the future but back into the past."

Message Edited by bentley on 06-13-2007 02:26 PM
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bentley
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Re: Historical Events in the novel Middlesex

[ Edited ]
I am opening a separate thread to discuss ancient and modern historical references in the novel.

Message Edited by bentley on 06-13-2007 05:20 PM
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bentley
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Re: Middle Chapters Discussion: The Novel and History



Bill_T wrote:
Middlesex is set against the backdrop of several historical events: the war between Greece and Turkey, the rise of the Nation of Islam, World War II, and the Detroit riots. How does history shape the lives of the characters in the novel?



Note: This discussion topic is particularly suitable for readers who have read more deeply into Middlesex, through the end of Book Three. If you wish to discuss plot elements introduced later in the book, consider posting in a separate thread.

Click on "Reply" to post your thoughts about this discussion topic, or click "New Message" on the main page to start a new topic thread.




The reason why the doctor, Desdemona and Lefty ended up in America was because of the Greek and Turkish War and the Battle of Smyrna. And they were very fortunate to escape; as many died in Smyrna and were not that fortunate. Cal/Calliope would not have been who he was if they stayed in Greece.
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LaurenKondrat
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Re: Middle Chapters Discussion: The Novel and History

I am going to go out on a limb here, but does anyone else think that the historical events of the novel kind of parallel Cal's life experiences, both her own and the struggles her family has been having throughout the decades? I felt the rise and fall of the historical events happening parallel to the intensity (is that the right word?) of the events Cal is going through.
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Paul_Hochman
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Re: Middle Chapters Discussion: The Novel and History



LaurenKondrat wrote:
I am going to go out on a limb here, but does anyone else think that the historical events of the novel kind of parallel Cal's life experiences, both her own and the struggles her family has been having throughout the decades? I felt the rise and fall of the historical events happening parallel to the intensity (is that the right word?) of the events Cal is going through.




I think I understand what you're saying, Lauren, and intensity is definitely the right word. That's an interesting way at looking at the highs and lows of the plot.
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x-tempo
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Re: Middle Chapters Discussion: The Novel and History

On p. 100 the Stephanides family gets a visit from the Ford Sociological Department, which I think represents a corporate Americanization program. During the age of immigration beginning in the period before WWI, Theodore Roosevelt and his opponent Woodrow Wilson along with Louis Brandeis, the first Jewish Supreme Court Justice, were the main proponents of Americanization. One of their concerns was the loyalty of U.S. soldiers in a European war and whether recent immigrants would in some way be "owned" by the ward heeler, the kaiser, the Pope, or whomever.

If you've read Philip Roth's counterfactual historical novel The Plot Against America, the son, Sandy, spends the summer in Kentucky under the auspices of Just Folks, a work program created by President Lindbergh's Office of American Absorption. Kentucky because it's the birthplace of Louis Brandeis. It's satirical because Lindbergh and Henry Ford are presented as anti-Semitic and the Jewish boy comes back a confirmed bacon and pork eater. But it depicts a kind of civic Americanization program, albeit one with sinister intent.
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bentley
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Re: Middle Chapters Discussion: The Novel and History



x-tempo wrote:
On p. 100 the Stephanides family gets a visit from the Ford Sociological Department, which I think represents a corporate Americanization program. During the age of immigration beginning in the period before WWI, Theodore Roosevelt and his opponent Woodrow Wilson along with Louis Brandeis, the first Jewish Supreme Court Justice, were the main proponents of Americanization. One of their concerns was the loyalty of U.S. soldiers in a European war and whether recent immigrants would in some way be "owned" by the ward heeler, the kaiser, the Pope, or whomever.

If you've read Philip Roth's counterfactual historical novel The Plot Against America, the son, Sandy, spends the summer in Kentucky under the auspices of Just Folks, a work program created by President Lindbergh's Office of American Absorption. Kentucky because it's the birthplace of Louis Brandeis. It's satirical because Lindbergh and Henry Ford are presented as anti-Semitic and the Jewish boy comes back a confirmed bacon and pork eater. But it depicts a kind of civic Americanization program, albeit one with sinister intent.




Thanks x-tempo..I put some photos and some postings about the Ford Program in the history section after reading the above. Very interesting. Ford is the one who we can also thank for the 40 hour work week (that seems like a thing of the past these days with everyone working long hours - lol).
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marcialou
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Re: Middle Chapters Discussion: The Novel and History

The way the plot wove through history was my favorite thing about this book. As a baby boomer I can remember the optimism of the 50s, the Civil Rights Movement, the Great Society and the riots. I remember when no one felt guilty about big cars. I heard first hand accounts of the roaring 20s, the Depression, the War, and the McCarthy years. My own family came to the US around the same time Cal's family did, so the descriptionn of the immigrant experience resonated with me. Reading Middlesex felt like a trip down Memory Lane.

My favorite episode was during the race riot when the father was guarding his store while the neighborhood resident was breaking in to get the cigarettes. The two men displayed so many real emotions in such a short period of time that a few passages described quite a bit of human nature. It was funny until the resident got shot while standing at the window enjoying his cigarette. What a powerful image. So many senseless deaths are caused by fear.

Marcia
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bentley
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Re: Middle Chapters Discussion: The Novel and History



marcialou wrote:
The way the plot wove through history was my favorite thing about this book. As a baby boomer I can remember the optimism of the 50s, the Civil Rights Movement, the Great Society and the riots. I remember when no one felt guilty about big cars. I heard first hand accounts of the roaring 20s, the Depression, the War, and the McCarthy years. My own family came to the US around the same time Cal's family did, so the descriptionn of the immigrant experience resonated with me. Reading Middlesex felt like a trip down Memory Lane.

My favorite episode was during the race riot when the father was guarding his store while the neighborhood resident was breaking in to get the cigarettes. The two men displayed so many real emotions in such a short period of time that a few passages described quite a bit of human nature. It was funny until the resident got shot while standing at the window enjoying his cigarette. What a powerful image. So many senseless deaths are caused by fear.

Marcia




I agree..so well put marcia.
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marcialou
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Re: Middle Chapters Discussion: The Novel and History

Thanks Bentley. As you see, I've dated myself too. I also remember Renee Richards.

Marcia
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bentley
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Re: Middle Chapters Discussion: The Novel and History



marcialou wrote:
Thanks Bentley. As you see, I've dated myself too. I also remember Renee Richards.

Marcia




Very funny Marcia...(lol).
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