The plot, if it ever existed at all, is about a Christian and an atheist arguing back and forth on morality and God’s existence. This is coloured by Sade’s bad personal experiences not just in school but also because his uncle was an abbot who participated in very sinful practises. Said uncle was also a bad influence on the young Sade.
It allegedly inspired a scene in the film Nazarin and its director Luis Bunuel is no stranger to adapting portions of Marquis de Sade’s other works and even included him in one of his films. Since Sade wrote really graphic stories, it’s one of the tamer ones out there but could offend certain sensibilities as Sade distrusted organised religion ever since and is very vocal about it.
I’ve thought about it before but I’ll explain it in full detail. To give you an idea of what would happen if the infamous Marquis de Sade met the ghost of Italy’s most beloved poet, look no further than the former’s ‘Dialogue entre un prete et un moribund’ but transposed onto Divine Comedy. Dante would replace Virgil and Sade in turn replaces Dante.
As predicted, Dante would try to guide and shield Sade from temptation and sin but due to Sade’s stubborn atheism he fails to go to purgatory and heaven with him. Sade rings the bell as Dante flies away, returning to Heaven. It would have to be padded and be similar in length to ‘Philosophy in the Bedroom’ to address wherever Sade goes with Dante.
But ultimately it’s an extended version of Dialogue Between A Priest and A Dying Man.
Like I said before about writing characters that don’t resemble yourself (including the dreaded Mary Sue), the only way to do it is to be more open-minded to new experiences, interactions and interests. I think the real problem with Mary Sues, as they are, isn’t just because they disrupt the story’s believability but because they’re byproducts of people with little else to care about.
Mary Sues are often wish fulfillment, which isn’t bad in and of itself. The only real way to counter it or rather the urge for it is to have more realistic expectations, maybe being more forgiving or willing to do something new. I get the impression that Mary Sue stories are weirdly introspective, if self-gratifying at times. But it’s possibly just harder to write for everybody else with an unbiased mind.
Even if it gives you a wider audience this way.
I’m starting to think that the Jared Shapiro PPG case makes Twilight’s Bella Swan seem awfully tame. The latter was commonly regarded as a Mary Sue but Twilight’s not that derivative of an existing franchise the way PPG 2016 is.
In fact with Jared falling in love with one character and allegedly stated to have no flaws either, he could be one of the first Canon Sues certain people can agree on. An earlier case (which would give further ammunition to Anti-Semites) would be Olicity on Arrow.
Arrow is based on the Green Arrow comics. Keep in mind that Oliver Queen has been considered a Batman rip-off before this programme occurred and even had his Arrowcave. The pairing is commonly regarded by some fans as initially fanfiction before becoming canon.
If Olicity was a fanfiction pairing that got canonised when writers pandered to a specific audience, the Jared Shapiro case would practically be a bad fanfiction in that somebody wrote himself as the heroine’s boyfriend. It wasn’t there in the original cartoon and others have stated there are better fanfiction than this.
But with Jared, we’ve got a proper Canon Sue that’s also similar to the character as originally parodied.
To elaborate my example, I decided to present it as a dialogue.
A black man meets his white friend over here but as soon as he starts standing up, the former feels upset.
White guy: Hey have you been eating watermelons lately?
Black guy: No! I don’t eat watermelons.
White guy: But I’m just kidding.
Black guy: Cut it out, it’s annoying. Please quit it.
White guy: Okay.
The white guy stops joking but the black guy still feels bad despite not wanting to give in to anger.
The black guy meets him again and he says the same.
White guy: Hi! You eat watermelons.
Black guy: Shut up.
The black guy runs to his sister.
Black guy: I have a white friend and he keeps on telling me that I eat watermelons. I do get he’s kidding but I’m pissed.
Black woman: Maybe you should forgive him.
Black guy: I don’t even eat watermelons. Wish he’d stop.
And the black guy leaves him alone.
When it comes to diversity, it isn’t just a matter of adding a POC, queer or woman but also putting more effort into their personalities and experiences. No two POCs, queers and women are going to be roughly identical to one another, sometimes starkly so. A Ghanaian journalist that hardly leaves its home country would differ a lot from a Congolese actor that does.
Heck even Congolese people would differ from one another, which is complicated and can be applied to any other group. Should this be taken into consideration, that would involve more effort in differentiating their respective personalities and roles. That’ll also enable the writer to be more open to entirely new and different topics and experiences.
New experiences like doing things you don’t normally do or enjoy which could lead to the birth of a character that isn’t much like you. It’s not just a matter of being more open-minded but also empathetic to or curious about such types at all.
People like Jamie Tehrani have been recently using phylogenetic analysis on folktales and mythology for some time now, tracking down their origins further back in lieu of any surviving artefact and text. I suppose in tandem with newly rediscovered Gaulish texts, people would use this to find the true origins of stories like The Voyage of Mael Duinn, Tromadh Gromaire and even uncover completely new ones.
Who knows if the Medieval Irish turned out to admire cats more than their descendants did when archaeologists uncover such manuscripts that depict Pangur Ban-like characters or if some Gaulish tribes worshipped a feline god. The latter could probably be an early version of the King of Cats and while he might not even be a wildcat, it could hint at what Robert Graves remarked before.
The former might turn out to be in good company considering that cats were highly valued for mousing back then. They were even children’s pets and there were certainly laws against such abuse before. Alternately speaking, they could find the last common ancestor to both the Kludde and Pooka (evil black shapeshifting dogs) and Nehelennia, who has a dog.
That would be the biggest surprise for Celticists and everybody else so far.