There's a passage in his writing where he describes female genitalia at different times of the month, but his writing is very clinical. It's not lascivious at all. I did wonder, though, how can you be so objective and then go out and have a sex life? He had two kids, so he must have managed.
I considered the language, and thought, 'This is my intellectual inheritance as a 21st century Canadian woman, I shouldn't have to filter it. It was a warrior's culture.
The Sweet Girl
The men weren't sitting around after a battle saying, 'Darn, that hurt. I actually took out some 'fucks' because of my dad. Generally, the language is something that I don't feel apologetic about. It felt right for the way I wanted to tell the story.
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It says something weird about our culture, that all the things that are visually acceptable on TV or on billboards are somehow not acceptable when you put them into language. In prime time, you can watch an episode of CSI, and it is gory and nasty and violent, and they're saying 'bitch' five times an hour or whatever they're allowed to under the prime time rules. But then pick up a work of literary fiction and encounter the same thing, and somehow it becomes really shocking.
I've heard from one bookseller in Toronto that a woman hit the first instance of 'cunt' on about page three, and actually returned the book.
Aristotle and young Alexander
BC Ferries won't stock the book because there's a bare bum on the cover. If I was setting something in 19th century London, the research would never end. I tried to be as true as I could to the historical record. That being said, you get to make up an awful lot. Who's going to contradict you? His kids certainly aren't going to.
In medieval times, the Germans wrote 'Alexander Romances' about the relationship between the two.
No one really knows what happened: Aristotle could have given him a couple of half-hour lectures and that was that. It's an ideal. I think Aristotle had a mature and tragic view of the world. He knew there was no such thing as perfection in this world. You can work towards it, you can strive for it, you can do your best and live a good life trying to achieve it, but I think he knew that you could never achieve it entirely. It's a very tragic understanding of the world but a poetic, complex, and adult one as well.
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In fact, as Aristotle narrates the story, many of the ideas and insights come from his interactions with others and his memories. It also shows Aristotle the polymath, a man as interested and versed in empirical research in biology as in abstract ideas in philosophy and ethics. The idea of extremes is replete in the work. On the one hand, there is Alexander, ambitious and intelligent. On the other hand, there is his half-brother Arrhidaeus, mildly retarded or brain damaged, whom Aristotle also seeks to teach. On the one hand, Alexander chomps at the bit to become a military leader.
The Golden Mean: A Novel of Aristotle and Alexander the Great (Vintage) - Harvard Book Store
On the other hand, post-battle, he seems to suffer symptoms akin to what we call post-traumatic stress disorder. On the one hand, Alexander seeks to and will wield power to expand the Macedonian empire. Aristotle himself is an example of searching for the mean between extremes. Although he ponders deep philosophical issues in a world that worships a pantheon of gods, he finds divinity in the natural world and science, whether biological or mathematical.
Is all this historically accurate and plausible? Certainly not. But since when does learning about philosophy and history require complete and total adherence to what might be a sparse historical record?