GEN-MEDIEVAL-L ArchivesArchiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 1997-03 > 0859067099
From: Rudy Krutar <>
Subject: Re: Genghis Khan (was: The Bible and genealogy)
Date: Sat, 22 Mar 1997 16:44:59 -0500
Sylvia Sauter wrote:
> For the record, Taylor Calwell was a woman originally from Appalachia w=
> wrote many books about controversial and fanciful ideas, as well as bei=
> prize-winning novelist.
> From: owner-gen-medieval
> To: GEN-MEDIEVAL
> Subject: Re: Genghis Khan (was: The Bible and genealogy)
> Date: Friday, March 14, 1997 5:17PM
> I am not crediting the statement below, allegedly from a book by Taylor
> Caldwell to any member of soc.gen.medieval.
I quoted it. I think I was right to do so.
> > Taylor Caldwell, The Earth is the Lord's, 1940: Charles Scribner's
> > Sons, fourth printing: Pyramid Books (New York) 1970.
> > . "Jamuga Sechen, fair skin, blue eyes, fine hair the color of an
> > autumn leaf, eye sockets wide and straight instead of slanting"
> > =3D
> > * Caldwell, pp. 85, 90, 93.
> > =3D
The full statement is:
p.85: The boys laughed. Jamuga had listened with passionate intensity.
Kurelen glanced at him. "As thou dost know, Jamuga, thy
is the wife of Lotchu, half-brother to Yesukai. She cometh
the Naiman, and was ome of their fairest maidens. But before
married Lotchuu she was with child by one of the the pale men.
Thou wert that child. Yet, it is strange: thou art neither
mouthed nor pious, treacherous nor crafty. That proveth that
good blood can drown out black."
Jamuga smiled with reserve; he was a youth without humor,
and suspected those guilty of it. He was certain that Kurelen
was mocking him. Nevertheless, he was secretly proud. The
bitter suns and winds of the Gocu could not completely darken
his fair skin. His eyes were as blue as the mirage waters of
the Lake of the Damnrf, which he had seen once on a time. The
blueness of his eyes was not fierce or hot, but rather misty
fragile and very pale. Though Temujin, his anda, had the gray
of the Bourchikoun, and hair the color of raw red gold, he
darker than Jamuga, whose fine hair was the color of an autumn
Moreover, Jamuga's body was lighter and more delicate, his
sockets wide and straight instead of slnting, his nose smaller
tilted, his mouth gentle and reserved. There was no ferocity
him, no anger that was wild and untamed. ...
> When I see a statement of this sort in a genealogy, it immediately
> raises a Red Flag in my mind. I would now be quite skeptical of anythin=
> that Taylor Caldwell might write, if this is indeed what he said.
The term Red Flag is surely anachronistic in this context (12th
You should be skeptical of anything anyone writes. A great deal of
genealogy consists of sorting facts from fiction. No secondary source
be trusted, because it is subject to wishful thinking and fancy.=20
sources (written soon after the events in question by people who should
known facts but who wrote them for nongenealogical purposes) are
better, but are subject to fraud and ignorance. Historical fiction is
based on historical fact, with allowance for poetic license. It serves
as a source
of stories to be corroborated. If you corroborate such a story, you
its fictional source. Including such a source is better than ignoring
> Even for 1940, when racism was in full swing---this statement betrays a
> pathetic ignorance of basic human anatomy. Asians, many of them, have
> those beautiful almond-shaped eyes. Caucasians do not. There is no
> fundamental difference among homo sapiens concerning eye sockets that
> are either "wide and straight" [supposedly "better" in Caldwell's
> rascist opinion] or "slanting." This is balderdash of the rankest
A discussion of political correctness about descriptions of Genghis Khan
and his friends is absurd. The sentiment of Genghis' time is perhaps
well-expressed by Kurelen, fictional(?) uncle of Genghis:
"My father was a wise man. He preferred murder to argument."
The full quote from Caldwell above does not seem to imply
that "wide and straight" is supposedly better in Caldwell's
"racist opinion". I infer that she was just trying to give
a physical description in terms that the Mongols of Genghis'
time might have thought. I am sure that they would not have
couched those thoughts in terms of intimate Quaker English,
but Caldwell was not writing for them, but for common
American readers. If we are to dismiss all sources that
do not meet current scholarly standards for Truth and
Political Correctness, we will have thrown out the baby with
the bath water. If conditions of life in this world are indeed
improving, then it is ridiculus to cast aspersions about our
predecessors, who laid the foundations for those improvements,
especially as they may not have regarded those changes as improvements.
A few hundred years after K'ung Fu Tzu (Confucius), another oriental
philosopher, Chuang Tzu, wrote:
... Just so the rules of propriety, righteousness, laws, and
change according to the time.
"If now you take a monkey and dress it in the robes of the duke of
it will bite an tear them and will not be satisfied till it has got
of them altogether. And if you look at the difference between
and the present time, it is as great as that between the monkey and
the duke of Chou.
-- Chuang Tzu (fourth century B.C.)
"Chuang Tzu: Genius of the
arranged from the work of James
by Clae Waltham, Ace Books (New
> Asians have a prolongation of a fold of the skin of the upper eyelid
> over the inner angle or both angles of the eye---the so-called
> "epicanthic fold." This phrase has been used in standard English since
> at least 1913.
Caldwell would not have used these technical terms to describe
the projected thoughts of an unlettered 12th century Mongol child.
She was not trying to describe the characters in her novel to a
twentieth century physiologist. Her word portraits are consistent
with the various portraits of the Mongol dynasty that appeared on p.13
of the 97 Feb issue of National Geographic, "Sons of Genghis: The Great
edited by Mike Edwards. In particular, red-bearded Ogodai is shown
with slanting eyes while his gray-bearded father Genghis is shown
with straight and wide eyes.
> In my opinion, if Taylor Caldwell was so careless as to make such an
> egregious error in a basic matter of human anatomy, why should I trust
> him in anything else, perhaps more complex?
Again, why trust any author?
> Someone who knows a great deal more about human anatomy than I, such as
> Tom Lincoln, may be able to shed more light on this issue.
How many authors of medieval material know much about human anatomy?
If any author writes inaccurately or colloquially about something
his field does that really refute everything he says in his field?
We cannot expect infallibility from anyone.
> The point I am making is that at this point, awaiting further evidence,
> I would put Taylor Caldwell and "Gustav Anjou" on approximately the sam=
> rung as credible researchers---a very low one. =3D
Would you put Sir Walter Scott on the same rung? He wrote a lengthy
poem "Lord of the Isles" about one of my ancestors, Angus Og MacDonald.
Should I not cite the poem because it was fictionalized? Scott did a
deal of research in preparing the poem, but says in his appendix that
name "Angus Og" has been exchanged, euphon=E6 gratia, for that of Ronald,
which frequently occurs in the genealogy. A footnote in the poem says,
"The fictitious part of the story is, on the whole, the least
My vote is to quote whatever I examine. You do it your way, and bless
you for writing anything at all. Most people did not.
> -- =3D
> D. Spencer Hines---"It may be said that, thanks to the 'clercs',
> humanity did evil for two thousand years, but honored good. This
> contradiction was an honor to the human species,and formed the rift
> whereby civilization slipped into the world." "La Trahison des clercs"
> [The Treason of the Intellectuals] (1927) Julien Benda (1867-1956)
Times change. We need to know what is good before we can honor
or emulate it. I prefer a nonpretentious genealogy that tells good
cites its sources so that I can examine them, and does not treat the
as an idiot. I have other sources for dogma. Pretension, dogmatism,
dullness are bad. I has spoken!
Rudy Krutar, one of those treasonous intellectuals
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