Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Thou Shalt Not Read

In this culture of offense, it is not unusual to discuss banned books in the detached manner of the average jaded individual. Some of us pretend, desperately, that the suppression of thought is a legitimate exercise.  This self-denying pretension needs to be countered both violently and with literary coolness: Nabokov, Proust, Flaubert, Joyce, and others need to be hoisted upon the malcontents and the prohibitionists and the “liberal” censors. This is what we would have missed had we buckled to them.

1.     Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
“Filth.” “Sheer unrestrained pornography.” “Repulsive.”
Such were the clueless epithets furnished on Lolita upon release. This great novel, now a bestseller for decades, is taught in universities and is the subject of numerous serious books and conversations.  At once, we see the censorious mentality in all its dullness and self-righteousness. We imagine a more modern version of some Roman censor cackling to himself as he restricts distribution of a book he has barely thought about and probably never read. Nabokov, naturally, was his icy self, famously declining to contribute to the championing of the book: “My moral defense of the book is the book itself. Read more.

No comments:

Post a Comment