I just can't imagine...

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I just can't imagine...

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1ambushedbyasnail
Ago 12, 2007, 12:23am

...how three of Willa Cather's novels made it onto the Top 100 Banned Books list.

Granted, it's been several years since I read My Ántonia. But it's only been a few days since I finished O Pioneers! and I can't think of a single objectionable thing in it... I mean, her writing's pretty mellow. Well, I suppose there was a murder. But it wasn't at all graphic. And then you get Death Comes for the Archbishop, which I haven't finished yet, but, well, I'm a hundred pages in and it's still just a couple priests galloping about the Southwest.

I don't know. I've read about ten Cather novels and have never found myself disturbed in any of the typical "banned" ways - no magic, no Satanism, no sex, no graphic violence, no religious extremes... just your average depiction of the frontier.

Anybody out there able to shine some light? Or have similar "what the heck" feelings about other books?

2nohrt4me
Ago 12, 2007, 10:44am

I can't figure that out either, unless it's because Cather herself was a lesbian.

3Polite_Society
Ago 12, 2007, 1:32pm

You could be onto something there, nohrt4me; a high school in Anaheim banned a biography of Cather because it mentioned that she was gay *and* successful, which just isn't possible according to the dour little raisins in fundieland.

4ambushedbyasnail
Ago 12, 2007, 10:41pm

Yeah, I did a little research and found out that, although apparently it can't be confirmed that she was a lesbian, she did live all her life with women and, uh, crossdressed when she was a teenager...

I think that probably does it.

5nohrt4me
Ago 13, 2007, 12:43pm

Yeah, I get sick of the whole hate the sin, love the sinner, burn their books mentality.

That Cather loved women--I mean in a general, appreciative sense--is clear from her books. She understood that freedom of choice also meant increased responsibility.

I like both Cather and Wharton, with Cather often the antidote to Wharton's tales of frustration and repression.

6tim_watkinson
Out 3, 2007, 8:31am

i've loved women too, but no one bans my books, dammit.

no one publishes them either, but hey. let's not get picky.

7PossMan
Out 3, 2007, 9:01am

#3 Polite_Society
If those are good reasons for banning a biography perhaps there's a good opportunity for niche writers. Perhaps someone should write a biography of Oscar Wilde (say) but omit to mention his sexual orientation and certainly not hint that he was successful — although the mere fact of there being a biography suggests he made some sort of mark on the world. At least it would go down well in Anaheim.

8MerryMary
Out 3, 2007, 10:55am

Didn't Bowlder do something like that? ;-)

9wonderlake
Out 3, 2007, 2:32pm

Do you have a link for the 100 Top banned books ?

Here is a blog that has links to a one Pelham Library's banned books list. My current reading, Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits makes their list, LOL.

10heina
Editado: Out 4, 2007, 4:02am

Whenever my parents told me not to read something, it just made me want to read it more. Usually, what I found was more disappointing than exciting. For example, my sister once checked out Two Moms, the Zark, and Me from the library, and my mother, upon scanning through it, told me not to read it, which led me to read it, naturally, and to the disappointment at the lack of scandalous content.

Similarly, a lot of banned books just aren't so thrilling in consideration of why they were banned.

11walden_girl
Abr 23, 2008, 1:27am

Catcher in the Rye. I just can't believe that. I mean, I know he encounters a prostitute, but he sees her in a very human and empathetic light, and because of that, cannot even bring himself to accomplish the act. I'm convinced that the people who ban books don't read them first. :(

12jesslyncummings
Abr 23, 2008, 5:59am

>11 walden_girl:
"I'm convinced that the people who ban books don't read them first. :("

Silly, if they read them they would be damning their souls and whatnot. What a terrible idea that would be! Saving us from those evil books, but in the process condemning themselves. Tsk, tsk for even mentioning such a possibilty!

13nohrt4me
Abr 23, 2008, 3:53pm

merrymerry--yes, hence the verb "bowdlerized" or a sanitized version of something.

14krolik
Abr 23, 2008, 6:41pm

reponse to >1 ambushedbyasnail:
There's a long history of Cather being dissed by academics and modernists--and now, it seems, by censorious rubes.

But over time the parochialism of the first two groups has become obvious. The same will be true of the last group.

15NobodysGirl
Maio 5, 2008, 4:42pm

that is fucking dumb.
next thing you know theyll ban picture books that are perfectly fine.
Back to book burning I guess

16walden_girl
Maio 5, 2008, 5:26pm

hey, goodwitch-- did you see the discussion topic in this group about the children's book about penguins that was banned? cause it's ironic that you just said they're going to ban picture books that are perfectly fine, in light of that... :)

17MerryMary
Maio 5, 2008, 6:10pm

Two male penguins in a zoo somewhere took care of an orphaned chick. Some dimbulbs took offense at the "same-sex" overtones they alone could see.

18Jesse_wiedinmyer
Maio 5, 2008, 6:21pm

Silly, if they read them they would be damning their souls and whatnot. What a terrible idea that would be! Saving us from those evil books, but in the process condemning themselves. Tsk, tsk for even mentioning such a possibilty!

There's a interestin little snippet in John Dean's Blind Ambition where he's talking about being guided through the White House and shown the President's bomb shelter -

Bud said Ehrlichman found this an ideal place for monitoring demonstrations, which puzzled me. It was remote, to say the least, and totally out of touch with what would be occurring on the streets. I conjured an image of "Field Marshal Ehrlichman," whose interest in demonstrations Haldeman once likened to that of a firehouse Dalmation at a blaze. I knew I wouldn't use the shelter for monitoring demonstrations, although Haldeman had told me that that would be one of my responsibilities. The only time I ever returned there was for a secret screening of Tricia's Wedding, a pornographic movie portraying Tricia Nixon's wedding to Edward Cox, in drag. Haldeman wanted the movie killed, so a very small group of White House officials watched the cavorting transvestites in order to weigh the case for suppression.

I'm not sure why, but the idea of a select group of Nixon officials watching tranny porn strikes me as rather funny.

19krolik
Maio 5, 2008, 6:57pm

No mystery: it is funny.

20weener
Maio 6, 2008, 6:31pm

21walden_girl
Maio 7, 2008, 11:09pm

haha, nice. and then there's also that delightful argument that gay parents will raise gay kids...because obviously straight parents always raise straight kids....

22Irieisa
Jun 11, 2009, 9:23pm

>21 walden_girl: - Wonder how the gay children were born? ;-) The stork, bringing bundles of joy to gay people? Heaven forbid.