Five totally immoral books besides ‘Fun Home’ Duke University students should … – Los Angeles Times
A group of Duke University students made headlinesÂ after announcingÂ they wouldn’t read Alison Bechdel’s 2006 graphic novel memoir,Â “Fun Home,”Â because ofÂ itsÂ “graphic visual depictions of sexuality.”Â
The book is part of Duke’sÂ Common Experience Summer Reading Program,Â in which the university selects a single bookÂ to be read by all incoming first-year students â€” a way of giving everyone a “shared intellectual experience.” (The reading is optional.)
But a Facebook status updateÂ byÂ one first-year student,Â Brian Grasso, led some students to rally behind a boycott because of the book’s (brief) depictions of masturbation and lesbian sex.
Never mind that the depictions are hardly titillating, and the book isÂ primarily about a young woman’s coming of ageÂ and the suspected suicide of her father. (The university has defended the selection, stating that itÂ hoped students would begin their universityÂ education “with open minds and a willingness to explore new ideas, whether they agree with them or not.”)
Grasso says he would have read the book if it had been justÂ text. It’s the drawings, in his mind, that veer into pornography.Â
But how different are images on the page from images created by words in your head? (I’ve still got thatÂ heads-on-spikesÂ scene from Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”Â occupyingÂ my brain after reading it in high school. And forget about all that Judy Blume.)
To help preserve the morality of Duke University’s incoming first-years (or anyone who mightÂ haveÂ trigger issues), I’ve compiled a helpful list of five books to avoid at all costs due to the graphic nature of their content â€” dirty, filthy, raunchy books teeming withÂ sex and death.
1. “Oedipus the King”
As part of a prophecy, aÂ young Oedipus kills his father, Laius, marries his mother, Jocasta, and has children with her (children who, technically, are also his half-siblings). She finds outÂ andÂ hangs herself. HeÂ wants to cut out her womb with his sword but uses her brooches to gougeÂ out his own eyeballs instead. It’s a classic of the Western canon,Â replete with incest and murder â€” not to mention gory eyeball violence: “With every blow blood spurted from his eyes,Â down on his beard, and not in single drops,Â but showers of dark blood spattering like hail.”
Trying getting a good night’s sleep now.
Where to begin with this steaming pile of turpitude? MacBeth is William Shakespeare’s murder-happy nobleman, who, with the egging on of his wife, Lady MacBeth, kills the King of Scotland, takes his job and then gets around to mercilessly slaughteringÂ anyone who might be suspicious of him: the king’s guards, his pal Banquo and the wife and child of his fellow Thane, MacDuff. In the process, Lady MacBeth loses it and commits suicide. Also, thereÂ areÂ witches. (Totally satanic.) In fact, this book is so morally dubious, I’d suggest not even reading this summary.
3. “Anna Karenina”
A thousand pages dedicated to marriageÂ infidelity? That’s what 19th century Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy produced in this indecentÂ tale about a marriedÂ woman who begins a torrid affair with aÂ dapper count namedÂ Vronsky, becoming pregnant in the process. She leaves her husband to run off with the Count, but, ultimately, doesn’t find happiness in his arms. The book ends in tragedy (spoiler alert), with Karenina under aÂ train.
“Anna Karenina” has beenÂ reimagined over the decades in both English and Russian as feature films and made-for-TV movies (one of which starred “Superman” Christopher Reeve as the amorous Vronsky) plus several television miniseries. Definitely do not read or watch these â€” especially not the lauded 1935 version of the filmÂ thatÂ stars none other thanÂ Greta Garbo.
4. “One HundredÂ Years of Solitude”
This multigenerational epicÂ by Gabriel GarcÃa MÃ¡rquezÂ is rife with all kinds of questionableÂ andÂ corrupting behavior. For one, there are the sundry murders: Patriarch JosÃ© Arcadio BuendÃa kills someone in a duel, the children of Col. Aureliano BuendÃa die by the hand of unknown assassins and a debauched wannabe priest is dispatched in theÂ bath by a group of young adolescents.
But the deaths are nothing compared to all the sex. The book chroniclesÂ countless affairs, out-of-wedlock births (17 of them by one man alone), brothers sharing a mistress andÂ a man with an oversized sex organ (“like a turkey’s wattles”) who employs it on a stunning array of women, including the town fortune teller (satanism, again). And, of course, there’s theÂ uncomfortable number of intermarriages and sexual relationsÂ between close and distant family members, leading to the constant fear that the lack of genetic variety might produceÂ a child with a pig’s tail.
The whole thing is not only rife withÂ incest, it smacksÂ of evolution. If you own a copy of this book, lock it away.
5. The Bible
Where to begin? The story begins with an unmarried naked coupleÂ running around a jungleÂ â€”Â and then it just goesÂ downhill from there. A brother kills a brother. A married guy sleeps with his housekeeper (with the permission of his wife).Â Entire cities ooze wickedness and corruption. And there is murder. There is rape. There is pillage. There are golden idols. There is a whole lot of begatting. There is even Edward G. Robinson betraying Charlton Heston. Oh, waitÂ …Â that last part is from the 1956 movieÂ “The Ten Commandments.”