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brown men Options
vkhu
Posted: Monday, June 19, 2017 6:37:32 AM
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Quote:
They seemed to me then to be brown men; but their limbs were oddly swathed in some thin, dirty, white stuff down even to the fingers and feet.

-The Island of Doctor Moreau


I'm curious about whether this is a racial slur for a specific race/people. If I remember right, back in the 1800s (when the story takes place), "black men" is the term for Africans, and "white men" is for Europeans. I can't find anything on "brown men" though, since nowadays people from mixed ancestry can also be called brown, and I don't think this meaning applied back then.

So does anyone got any idea who the "brown men" are in the late 1800s?
Харбин Хэйлунцзян 1
Posted: Monday, June 19, 2017 6:51:44 AM

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Location: Dzerzhinskiy, Moskovskaya, Russia
vkhu wrote:
I'm curious about whether this is a racial slur for a specific race/people.
So does anyone got any idea who the "brown men" are in the late 1800s?

I'm not sure of 1800s but today:

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/brown

Quote:
2.
a. Having a brownish or dark skin color.

Also:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiX2PbrBXCQ

And I myself heard Tamil girls call themselves brown.

აბა ყვავებს ვინ დაიჭერს, კარგო? გალიაში ბულბულები ზიან.
mactoria
Posted: Monday, June 19, 2017 8:24:24 AM
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Location: Stockton, California, United States
vkhu wrote:
Quote:
They seemed to me then to be brown men; but their limbs were oddly swathed in some thin, dirty, white stuff down even to the fingers and feet.

-The Island of Doctor Moreau


I'm curious about whether this is a racial slur for a specific race/people. If I remember right, back in the 1800s (when the story takes place), "black men" is the term for Africans, and "white men" is for Europeans. I can't find anything on "brown men" though, since nowadays people from mixed ancestry can also be called brown, and I don't think this meaning applied back then.

So does anyone got any idea who the "brown men" are in the late 1800s?



Vkhu: I found this section on Google books; although I saw the movie yrs ago I never read the book and so I read this whole section quickly to get a grasp of what HG Wells was writing about. It's my impression that "brown men" is a simple descriptive term, as he uses the term "black man" and "negroid" to describe Montgomery's companion, and 'white man" to describe Montgomery. "Brown men" is descriptive and used (I think) as a way to compare their skin color (and possible different origin) to that of Montgomery and of his companion. He goes on to say the "brown men" are swathed in what appear to bandages and are wearing turbans, so they are more than likely a different nationality or race than Montgomery (white man) and his companion (black skin). So I don't see this as a blatant racial slur, but a descriptive term used by a character that is plain-spoken (e.g. the rescued man Pendick calls them 'evil looking boatmen' and goes on to use simple terms to indicate why he finds them evil, but to my reading doesn't find them ugly because of their skin color) and who uses the terms of the era in which the book is written. This is my opinion, others reading Wells' book may have a different opinion, and it really is probably up to you, the reader, to determine what Wells (or his characters) intended with his writing.
Romany
Posted: Monday, June 19, 2017 8:46:43 AM
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VK -

Remember when you are reading English 'Classics' such as this one, they've stood the test of time. Books dealing with racial slurs and people being rude to each other don't really last that long: they sell for a short period of time and everyone then moves on to some other 'scandalous' book.

So the thing to do is to approach these old books with this in mind. The lessons they have to teach are about beautiful language, or inspiring adventures, or the triumph of good over evil.

The do echo the times in which they were written however - one of the reasons I never advise reading them to students who don't know a little about western history: - because, read in to-day's world they could give a very strange picture!

So - in the Colonial world race was a pretty fluid construct. The British were known everywhere as the 'red necks'. ('Rooie neks' across Southern Africa) Nothing to do with what this term means to-day: just that, in tropic countries, wearing the stupid clothes Europeans used to wear, they were always sweaty and red-coloured from the heat. Not very appealing!. "Brown" originally referred to the people of the sub-Continent, but soon just came to mean anyone who wasn't a sweaty old red-neck, or an African.

tunaafi
Posted: Monday, June 19, 2017 11:54:42 AM

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Whe I was at school in the 1950s, the natives of Africa were black, those of North America red, those of the Near and Middle East brown, and those of the Far East yellow.
Life was simple then.
Харбин Хэйлунцзян 1
Posted: Monday, June 19, 2017 12:25:24 PM

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tunaafi wrote:
Whe I was at school in the 1950s, the natives of Africa were black, those of North America red, those of the Near and Middle East brown, and those of the Far East yellow.
Life was simple then.



In Russian we have a euphemism for 'male homosexual' - blue. I still do not know what green is about.

აბა ყვავებს ვინ დაიჭერს, კარგო? გალიაში ბულბულები ზიან.
NKM
Posted: Monday, June 19, 2017 2:30:31 PM

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Then again (if I remember correctly) in Russian "red" is "beautiful".

Literally.

Харбин Хэйлунцзян 1
Posted: Monday, June 19, 2017 2:47:04 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/13/2015
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Location: Dzerzhinskiy, Moskovskaya, Russia
NKM wrote:
Then again (if I remember correctly) in Russian "red" is "beautiful".

Exactly! Though I didn't think of that. :)

აბა ყვავებს ვინ დაიჭერს, კარგო? გალიაში ბულბულები ზიან.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Monday, June 19, 2017 5:13:28 PM

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Like tunaafi, I would take it simply - they were brown, that was their colour, not pink or red or black.

If you are describing strangers in a book, you point out the most noticeable features:

He was a tall, red-headed youngster with freckles.
She was a willowy blonde with the fair skin of someone who rarely sees the sun.
He was a stocky chap, a good six inches shorter than me, with a swarthy complexion and coal-black hair.
They seemed to me then to be brown men; but their limbs were oddly swathed in some thin, dirty, white stuff down even to the fingers and feet.
She stormed in, black hair flying behind her. Her brown complexion and Mediterranean features made her look imperial and commanding.
("Mediterranean features" are the ones which separate the average Turk, North African, Spaniard, Italian, Greek from the average English/German/Nordic person. There's nothing 'racial' or 'slur' about it - it's just different physical features)

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
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