Daphne du Maurier’s brilliant novel Rebecca, first made into a film by Alfred Hitchcock (who ruined the ending), has inspired a remake. Netflix is set to release the movie on October 21, 2020. Even though I don’t expect to enjoy the film half as much as the book, it is a fantastic story, and — what with everything else that’s going on (and not going on) in the world — I was quite looking forward to seeing it. So, imagine my horror, then, when I walked into my local bookstore, picked up a copy of Du Maurier’s short stories and learned — to my shock and dismay — that she was a massive transphobe.
The offending passage is from “Don’t Look Now,” a short story in which a character named John and his wife, Laura, go out for lunch in Venice, and notice some sinister-looking people at the table next to them.
“They’re not old girls at all,” [Laura] said. “They’re male twins in drag.”
Her voice broke ominously, the prelude to uncontrolled laughter, and John quickly poured some more Chianti into her glass.
“Pretend to choke,” he said, “then they won’t notice. You know what it is — they’re criminals doing the sights of Europe, changing sex at each stop. Twin sisters here on Torcello. Twin brothers tomorrow in Venice, or even tonight, parading arm-in-arm across the Piazza San Marco. Just a matter of switching clothes or wigs.”
“Jewel thieves or murderers?” asked Laura.
“Oh murderers, definitely. But why, I ask myself, have they picked on me?”
Now obviously I didn’t read the whole thing (because who has time for that?), but from my quick flick through, it was quite obvious that the characters in question are the villains of the story. And as far as I could tell (at least from the skimming the beginning and end), the moral of the story seemed to be: If you look at people in drag, you will die. To add grave insult to grievous injury (just when I thought that the story couldn’t get any more offensive) I discovered that the aforementioned, transphobically described characters weren’t merely ominous, they were Scottish!
Alas, it is with great sadness that I bought du Maurier’s book in order to burn it. I encourage you all to do the same. #RIPDaphneduMaurier