Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Commemorating Banned Books Week with Henry Miller

I spent much of the recent holiday weekend at two Half Price Books locations, and I saw that they were already putting up the banners trumpeting Banned Books Week.  If it is good enough for HPB, it is good enough for MPFL—let’s beat the Banned Books Week rush and celebrate Banned Books Week three weeks early!

Unsubstantiated rumors have reached me that suggest kids are giving readings of Harry Potter books and Twilight books at Banned Books Week events—are these books really banned? I see piles of them at every bookstore and people can’t stop running their yaps about them. I’ve even heard that there are films associated with these volumes!

To commemorate Banned Books Week, which I fear is, like so many other holidays and commemorative weeks and months, just a stunt engineered to sell merchandise or garner attention for the self-appointed professional representatives of some special interest group, here at MPorcius Fiction Log we are presenting an excerpt from a book that was literally banned (copies imported into the United States and Canada were seized by the government as contraband), Henry Miller’s 1934 novel Tropic of Cancer.

I selected these four pages from my 1961 paperback edition because I think they are interesting and amusing, and give the reader an idea of Miller’s virtues as a writer and breadth of knowledge about and attitude towards literature, and also because they will perhaps give readers an idea of why the American and Canadian governments might consider the novel obscene—it is possible even today, in our enlightened age of trigger warnings and sensitivity training, that some readers may find something in these four pages that will give offense.

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