What Robert E. Lee advises against below has its modern counterpart in movies, television dramas and other fictitious ramblings of a writer’s active mind. Today’s soap opera in many languages feature those usually wealthy and with no visible means of support, forever seeking love and in perpetual personal crisis. Lee warned his children against sigh[ing] after that which has no reality.”
Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com
Lee Instructs His Children
“This was the Victorian age, when a young woman was supposed to be reading something spiritually-uplifting or domestically self-improving. In fact, most educated young women with some time on their hands were likely to be doing just what Mildred [Lee] was, although in her case she was risking her father’s strong disapproval.
Six years before, when she was thirteen, her father had written her from the stark Texas plains: “Read history and works of truth — not novels and romances. It was not a new thought with him; worrying about Rooney, he had, years before that, written Mary: “Let him never touch a novel. They print beauty more charming than nature, and describe happiness that never exists. They will teach him to sigh after that which has no reality, to despise the little good that is granted us in the world and to expect more than is given.”
(Lee: The Last Years, Charles Bracelen Flood, Houghton Mifflin, 1981, page 72)