AUGUST 28, 2012 5:55AM

Book-Burning in the U.K

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A friend of mine wrote once about the Catalunyan celebration of St. Jordi's Day. He wrote also about books and their destruction by foolish men and women. On St Jordi's Day , Catalonian men and women celebrate literacy by giving each other presents of books and roses. It is a beautiful tradition of respect and celebration for books, and a reminder of inquisitorial ignorances.

The issue of historical libricide is too vast for a short blog-post here and encompasses much. In this current instance of threatened libricide, the book that will be publically burned is Fifty Shades of Grey, a book that has gotten the goat of a women's group in the U.K.

I am not familiar with the book, or indeed with the group- but hey! issues of censorship in the contemporary arena are always of interest. My Twitter comments on the issue are mostly about ideas. The most recent set of clamourings in the U.K for the public burning of books was in 1989, in Bradford and was of The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie. The idea, the violence against the book was based in the issue of Blasphemy and of offense against a religion. Book burnings used to be about ideas that threatened a status quo , or about offending against a religion. They were symbolic and ritualistic in their endeavour. Nowadays they are scenes of mob-rule and of hatred, much like the call to ban Dante's Divine Comedy by the U.N affiliated Gherush 92.

As far as I know, Fifty Shades of Grey is a bit of porn-fodder for the non-discerning reader. The reader who is trampled with endless airport novels, chick-lit, ABC detective atmospheric thrillers and all the ephemera of mass-production. The author of Fifty Shades must feel as if they have achieved something marvellous to be treated in such a manner by a group of people who have not achieved the literacy to know that sex and porn writing is kind of everywhere.

I won't be buying the book to investigate why so much anger at it leads to calls for burning. In fact, I would rather wonder why the women's group hasn't gone for other literary porn as they evidently perceive it ? What a daring example these women set, the images they so evidently crave are of the burning of books and ideas.

I am adding here an excerpt from Book Machine,

"There aren’t many people I know who have come away from reading 50 Shades of Grey feeling they have experienced a well-written, deeply thoughtful piece of literature. In fact, I’d go so far as to wager there hasn’t been a single reaction to the book that has praised its ability to deal with serious relationship issues in a considered and useful manner. Most reviews I have read of the thing from various bloggers and critics think it’s trite bullshit.

Apparently, though, it’s such incredibly popular trite bullshit that a women’s rights group in the UK have taken it upon themselves to tell us we must under no circumstances read it, as the idea that a young, naive woman can have a relationship with an older, controlling man is ‘dangerous‘. To ensure we aren’t exposed to any unseemly ideas, they will be holding 50 Shades of Grey bonfire on November 5th."

(from Book Machine , http://bookmachine.org/2012/08/27/book-burning-back-in-fashion-with-50-shades-libricide/ )

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