Review: “Hodgson’s Women”, Sam Gafford, 2014.
Gafford argues that we have to look at Hodgson’s fiction to deduce his attitude about women.
It’s a dubious concept, but we don’t have much in the way of letters or interviews from Hodgson.
Supposedly, Hodgson was spoiled as a child. Gafford argues that most of Hodgson’s fiction was written before he ever married or had much contact with women who were not his mother or sisters. His women tend to be meek and untrustworthy until they fall in love with a stronger male who will dominate them. I would offer “Judge Barclay’s Wife” and “Diamond Cut Diamond with a Vengeance” as counter examples though I’ll note the last was probably written after Hodgson’s marriage.
Gafford argues that when we see women in Hodgson, they are untrustworthy and faithless. The most cynical depiction of women, to Gafford, is “Kind, Kind and Gentle Is She”.
In the his novels, especially the earliest written, The Night Land, we get a romantic view of women that, in the later Captain Gault stories, becomes cynical. Perhaps more experience with actual women wised Hodgson up. You can complain about his cynicism, but you can’t automatically say it’s not born of observation if you argue the earlier depiction of women is the result of naivete.
Of course, you can escape this contradiction by acknowledging that maybe Hodgson was using his imagination and not experience for both depictions. Perhaps his own psychological situation changed through the years and thus his depiction of women.
Or, of course, you can argue that some combination and imagination led to the different depictions – a far more credible take than seeing Hodgson as always putting his personal attitudes in a story.
Not one of Gafford’s better efforts at Hodgson criticism.