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“Literature and Moral Purpose”

Davies, Robertson | First Things, November, 1990


p. 12

What you want to avoid: “moral boys in fiction.” They’re typically so good they’re awful. Used to be magazines that were “heavy with tales of noble boys who imposed their moral superiority on everybody around them.” Also moral animals: e.g. Beautiful Joe, who is a canine Christian. He was a powerfully moral dog. Moreover, he was a Total Abstainer. “Joe’s lips never touched alcohol.” He was totally chaste. Or how about little Lord Fauntleroy who was “remorselessly democratic toward anyone who kept it firmly in mind that he was a lord, and behaved accordingly.”