09/17/2016 by syrbal-labrys
We got a fat envelope this week from “The Folio Society”. This is an outfit in England that publishes beautiful expensive books. We rarely buy, since the price of one book can buy me a pile of the same cheap books from half.com or such. And my income is limited and obligations many.
I tossed the envelope into recycling after looking at the beautiful pictures of books I cannot afford and have no more bookshelf space to store. But it stayed in my mind as I re-read an old leather-bound copy of Kipling’s Jungle Books yesterday. Most times that I have reviewed any Kipling novel — Kim being one of my favorites, for instance — I get a pile of comments about what an imperialist pig he was and how unenlightened I am to enjoy his stories.
This always ignites a particular peeved fuse of mine: judging authors who wrote in another time by the current politically correct drivel that keeps pundits in pay. I note, religious sorts slip past this – they certainly don’t want the Iron Age horrors that are their ‘holy’ books judged by current ideals, do they? So, sure, bitch at Kipling for the imperialism of his age. Gripe at Hemingway for bemoaning women’s thighs losing their grip. Give me a break! The zeitgeist of an age should be in the books of the era — how else does a modern reader know what it was like then?
What has this to do with costly Folio Society editions? Well, there amongst the bookish splendors was Lolita, hailed by a managing editor as a “literary masterpiece.” Please. I found the book a grueling, sickening, tiresome, boring read. A pedophile grooms a girl who obviously wants to escape her childhood home and is willing to use a dick-led twerp to do it. That is a literary masterpiece? If anyone wants to bitch about a book – why not pick on something still hailed as “timeless” for being a self-excusing piece of crap?
Come on, get honest — Kipling can still enchant, but Nabokov should get a ball-bat across the chops if you want to talk about engendering horrid ideas as somehow literarily enchanting. To consider the older fart lusting after sweet young girl flesh, and later sorrowing over his loss and being glad of Lolita’s sorry ending as fit punishment for her? THAT is the sort of crap that still hurts people — girls, and women, too. If you want to weed the bookshelves, I suggest you start with stuff presented as “ever modern” and look for what still does harm.