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What We're (Re-)Reading Now: 'The Mists of Avalon' by Marion Zimmer Bradley

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You know what I’m a sucker for? Feminism. Also, genre fiction, especially the fantastical sort. Which is why the only reason I hadn’t read Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon before this week is that it was published six years before I was born. (A poor reason, given many of the works I love most share this characteristic, but I felt compelled to at least try to explain it.) It’s a re-telling of the Arthurian legend from the perspective of the female leads in the story.

Boom. Femisnist re-tellings, well-established fantasy—hook, line, and sinker, I am in. Please, someone get me a copy!

Unfortunately, I came across this book via a discussion of the child-molestation revelations, accusations, and court-cases against Zimmer Bradley in a recent EW meeting. This knowledge and context has certainly clouded my reading, making passages involving young women and their ‘sexual awakenings’ more than just moderately uncomfortable. In other works handling this time period and religion, I might pass it all off as abhorrent practices that would never be accepted by contemporary society—but that isn’t entirely possible given the circumstances. I didn’t realize how much comfort I take as a reader in assuming that  I share a similar moral compass with an author. That doesn’t exist here, and adds a perpetual unease to the experience. (Note: It’s not a short experience. The book is roughly 900 pages.) READ FULL STORY

Marion Zimmer Bradley's daughter accuses her of abuse

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Moria Greyland, the daughter of sci-fi author Marion Zimmer Bradley, accused her mother of sexually and physically abusing her when she was a child. Bradley, the author of The Mists of Avalon and the Darkover series, died in 1999.

The accusations first appeared on the blog of author Deirdre Saoirse Moen. Moen posted emails from Greyland alleging abuse from her mother. “She was cruel and violent, as well as completely out of her mind sexually. I am not her only victim, nor were her only victims girls,” she wrote in one email. Greyland was abused by her father, Walter Breen, who was jailed for child molestation in 1991 and died in prison in 1993.

Greyland said she hasn’t spoken up until now because she didn’t want to face her mother’s fans. “I thought that my mother’s fans would be angry with me for saying anything against someone who had championed women’s rights and made so many of them feel differently about themselves and their lives,” she told The Guardian. “I didn’t want to hurt anyone she had helped, so I just kept my mouth shut.”

Sci-fi writers are rallying around Greyland for support on Twitter and elsewhere. Janni Lee Simmer, the author of a few Darkover stories, said that he is donating his royalties and advances to Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), a charity for victims of abuse.

“I am so glad I spoke out, because on the blog, so many people have shared their own stories of abuse and incest and heartbreak,” Greyland said. “I am going to keep talking about it, if only so that those people who need to share their own stories will do so now.”

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