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Værker af Favell Lee Mortimer

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The author claims that she is making no particular effort to be accurate, and is focusing instead on being entertaining. Why, you ask? Well, because the books are intended to make children love learning, and if they succeed in that then they'll inevitably end up reading accurate books later.

I read it because it has garnered a reputation for being incredibly inaccurate about places where the author had not visited, which is nearly every place she wrote about.

The author was certainly proud of her own country and racist about foreigners. Her weirdly specific and detailed prejudices are all laid out in the book. She also occasionally had pleasant stereotypes about some people, which seem as nonsensical as her negative ideas.

Here are some highlights, sorted by locale:

"The world indeed is very big. Look out of the window. You see a little piece of the world; but you cannot see it all. There is another world you can see- I mean the moon. It is hung up above the sky. There is nothing under it to keep it from falling. It is God who keeps it where it is."

"Is London a pleasant city? No; because there is so much fog and so much smoke... Is London a pretty city? No; because it is not built by the sea-side or on high hills."
"Children of eight years old begin to work in the cotton-mills, but only for six hours in the day."

"There are not nearly as many thieves in Wales as there are in England."
"the Welsh are not very clean"

"When they read, it is novels about people who have never lived. It would be better to read nothing than such books."

"The Prussians are not fond of eating, like the Austrians."

"The Scotch like music, but you would not like the sound of their bag-pipes. The noise is almost as ugly as the creaking of a door, or the squalling of cats."

"Rags. This is the dress of the poor Irish. They do not mend their clothes, so the holes get larger and larger. Their coats are made of a gray woolen cloth called "frieze", and they are worn till they drop off the back: first one tail of the coat comes off, then the other, and then the sleeves disappear, till at length nothing but a heap of rags remains."

"The pig is the favourite animal. The Irish treat him as kindly as their children, give him a corner of the hut, and share their milk, and potatoes, and bread with him."

"The French people are very fond of talking, and they are very fond of company." "often they drink a little wine. They very seldom drink too much. In England, it is a common thing for a poor man to get drunk, but it is very uncommon in France. People sometimes whisper to each other, and say, "That man once got drunk."" "There are no people so gay and so polite as the French. They do not drink much, nor eat much either. They like being smart, but are not very clean."

Portugal: "Portugal is very much like spain... Yet there is some difference. What? Though the Portuguese are indolent, like the Spaniards, they are not so grave, and sad, and silent. They are proud like the Spaniards, but they are more deceitful."

"There is many a little cottager far happier than the Emperor of Russia."
"The Russians worship a man called Saint Nicholas." "You see there is a bad religion in Russia. The people do not serve God and worship him alone."
"The children are allowed to play so much, that they grow up very ignorant."
"The poor Russians are not black, but fair, with light hair. Why are they called "black"? Because they are very dirty."

Italy: "Their chief amusement is gambling." "They may well be sad, for their country is in a sad state. It is full of fine houses and palaces—empty and going to decay—but that is not the worst part—the people are ignorant and wicked."
"They do not care so much for useful things as they do for beautiful things." "The favourite food of poor people is macaroni. It is made of flour and water in the shape of pipes. Macaroni looks like white serpents."
"What is the religion of the Italians? The religion of the Italians is Roman Catholicism. What do Roman Catholics worship? Idols and a piece of bread. Would not God be very angry if he knew this? God is angry."
"Rome is the capital of Italy, and once it was the capital of the world. It was a wicked city then, full of idols and cruelty--and it is a wicked city now. Here the Pope lives. He is the chief of all the priests of the Roman Catholic religion."

"There is no people in Europe as clean as the Dutch."

"There are very few people as harmless and quiet as the Icelanders. They are dull and slow, but they are honest and true."

"The Swedes are very fond of reading." "The Swedes swear also in a dreadful manner, the gentlemen as well as the poor people. They get drunk also very often." "Nothing useful is well done in Sweden."

"The greatest fault of the Norwegians is drunkenness."

"The Poles love talking, and they speak so loud they almost scream; and they are proud of this, and say that the Germans are dumb."

"More Jews live in Poland than in any other country." "They have eyes like the hawk and noses like its beak. They are fine-looking men - such as you might imagine David and Solomon were." "The Jews are not idle like the Poles, but try in every way to get money. It is they who keep all the inns - and wretched inns they are, because the Jews are very dirty." "The Poles speak very rudely to the Jews, and think themselves much better; but the Jews bear rudeness with great patience, because they are accustomed to be ill-treated." "It is because they do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, that God allows them to be so unhappy." "we cannot forget that the Lord Jesus himself, when he lived down here, was a Jew."
… (mere)
wishanem | May 27, 2021 |
Absolutely hilarious, because it's true (not that people are clumsy, but that someone actually wrote this god-awful book in all seriousness). It's not mediocre and bland bad writing, it's truly jaw-dropping I-can't-believe-it demented prose.

A good illustration of the old adage "if you can't say anything nice, write a travel guide."
ashleytylerjohn | 10 andre anmeldelser | Sep 19, 2018 |
HA! She's so sweet. Well, when she's not hating on Catholics and heathens, and ah... teaching kids the weirdest bullshit about people.
Joanna.Oyzon | 10 andre anmeldelser | Apr 17, 2018 |
When Mortimer sat down to write about the world in the mid-nineteenth century she refreshingly believed she didn't have to leave England to do so. You also have to be impressed with Mortimer's determination to find fault with every group of people, every country and every major city in the world.

You begin reading every entry in "The Clumsiest People in Europe" wondering what insult Mortimer will hurl at the subject, and you don't have to wonder long. Whether it's declaring that the Greeks sing badly or scream like babies when unhappy, stating that the Kurds have "a fierce and malicious look", that Buddhists "are full of tricks by which to get presents out of people", that it is common to stumble over baby corpses in Chinese streets because the Chinese murder babies by the truckload or that the Siamese are deceitful, cowardly and cruel. I could go on and note that Mortimer believed the Australian Aboriginals to be flat out ugly or that Egyptians were famous for lying but you get the point. Indeed, the closest Mortimer gets to praise is describing Bostonians as being serious.

It's almost a shock then to find Mortimer railing against the injustices of slavery. She hides it at the back of her book though.
… (mere)
MiaCulpa | 10 andre anmeldelser | Sep 7, 2016 |


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