| To me it's all one who she is, or if I meet her;
Blanchefleur's smile was never mine, nor Enid's slender hand,
Yet merely the knowing they live makes living sweeter:
Just to have scanned
The face of each was a grace, and so I bless them;
And here was their match, or one fashioned more lovely still;
In passing alone they're seen, yet I gently possess them
And always will.
from Silverlock by John Myers Myers
A Note on the Women in Silverlock
Several aspects of Silverlock may offend militant feminists. Almost all of the male characters are openly appreciative of women's physical attractions. None of the women -- no woman in any John Myers Myers book I have read so far -- plays an active part in any adventure. At one point Faustopheles comments on human visions of the Hereafter -- men with divine maidens to serve them and love them, "or if they themselves are women, let them be Houris or Valkyries."
On the other hand -- John Myers Myers was born in 1906. Silverlock was published in 1949. Not everyone believes in making allowances for different cultures, but I do. John Myers Myers grew up in a different culture than authors writing today, and I do not hold him to the same standards.
And his portrayal of women is not entirely as "Houris or Valkyries." Hermione, the goal of Lucius's quest, is highly intelligent, educated, kind, honorable, with courage and a strong will of her own. She just never gets to actually do anything. The most active women in Silverlock -- Circe, Queen Semiramis, Nimue -- are lustful and malicious. The other two women who are active -- Janet and Rosalette -- act only to reunite with Their Man.
I got a clue to Myers' portrayal of women from another novel, Out On Any Limb. Here again a young man goes through a great deal of risk and adventure for the sake of a young woman who never actually does anything herself.
The clue came in a song halfway through the book:
| Oh a man named Tamerlane
Framed mighty things,
Tamed lands so he could reign,
Famed king of kings.
Hey down a down,
I know a mystery:
He stole half the world
Just to give Zenocrate.
What I got out of that was that Myers did not admire women who acted directly so much as he admired women who got men to act for them. But to be fair, the main male character in Out On a Limb controls and manipulates others, getting them to act for him. Myers admires the quality of being able to charm friends and strangers into risking life and limb for your cause -- whether that quality is in men or in women.
Myers charms me. I'm willing to forgive him for not having written with the sensibilities of the 1990's -- even though I suspect that even if he were writing today, he would still rather write a bawdy drinking song than an essay on women's empowerment.
Myers' daughter Anne, however, wrote to tell me quite spiritedly that John Myers Myers raised his daughters to be strong, independent and intelligent people in their own right, always respecting and treating them as such.
You are welcome to use this as an example of the dangers of trying to analyze an author from his text.
The Women in Silverlock
"On Stage" "Off Stage" adulterous woman (with Lucius)
Gypsy/witch/poisoner (& her niece)
Hermione Steingerd ap Hawthorn
Ilmarinen's second wife
maiden rescued by Sir Calidore
old lady of Dubuque
victim of Raskolnikov
the woman Brodir fought for
The Most Notable Absence in Silverlock
Shandon visits with Robin Hood and his Merry Men -- but he not only never meets Maid Marion -- she isn't even mentioned.