The Fiction of Gabrielle Lord
'Why do people do this sort of thing?' It is a child's question, from a boy called Derek, who is one of a group kidnapped with their teacher. She tries to answer him: unhappy childhoods, harsh parents, but concludes—in despair—'No one really knows' (90). The exchange comes from the first of Gabrielle Lord's eight novels, Fortress (1980). It has resonated through the increasingly complex works that she has written since then. One of Lord's key subjects is not so much the reasons for, or problems of evil, but the want of sufficient cause for the harms that men especially do to children, and to women. It is a motiveless, or inadequately motivated malignity that those of her characters who are victims often and terribly confront. Typically they have not been chosen at random. Rather they are unwitting objects of revenge out of all proportion to their presumed offence.
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