“There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written, that is all.” – Oscar Wilde
So, I was introducing a couple of friends of mine to the BBC-MYSTERY! Mrs Bradley Mysteries and it occured to me that I miss being naughty. Okay, that does need some explanation, as everyone knows I have demerit badges in naughty. The Mrs Bradley character is a ridiculously liberated middle-aged detective of the ’20s era, who has a habit of surprising with her friends with books that have been brought into the country at the bottom of her luggage wrapped in brown paper: Radclyffe Hall‘s Well of Loneliness, D.H.Lawrence’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover, you get the idea…..long story short…our literary culture lost something when people stopped having to smuggle books into the country in order to enjoy them. (there still is some stuff that’s illegal to traffic in: kiddie porn, hitman howtos, harry potter knockoffs etc…but nothing really worth READING certainly) Surely it must have been deliciously tingly knowing you had a copy of Joyce‘s Ulysses wrapped inside your pajamas when you came back from your Parisian sojourn or even a ratty copy of Voltaire‘s Candide. Reading these books for the first time while they were still proscribed must have made them all the more satisfying, perhaps even appearing better than they were. It stands to reason that a book wrapped in brown paper is infinitely more enticing than one that isn’t. Personally I don’t know…the closest i ever came was stealing my brother’s dogeared Zebra copy of Steal this Book by Abby Hoffman, I don’t even think he missed it. Luckily even though we still have narrow-minded guardians of public morality expunging things from high school curriculums left and right and center, none can TRULY be called banned; since owning it and walking around with it and bringing in and out of the country doesn’t make you a target for prosecution. Granted that is nothing to be sneezed at. There are still countries on this planet where women have to wear burkas for chrissakes! and children are sold as slaves to harvest cocoa to make hershey’s kisses, I would get down on my knees and kiss the ground my public librarian walks on, IF I thought that getting up would easily follow. But damn it….I do miss being naughty.
oh in case you were wondering: Banned Books Week runs September 24th to October 1st. which I think is ridiculous, who the hell can finish all the Banned Books in ONE week a year?
Here’s a lovely article from the old AB Bookman’s Weekly about collecting banned books.
WTF? I didn’t even know they had archived all this stuff from the AB BW! check it out. You will probably see me blog more stuff from there..