Monday, May 21, 2012

Notorious fiction books in history

In this list I'm going to leave out the religious texts and essays that have caused massive turmoil throughout human history. Let's just put it this way, pretty much anything of significance in religious history is notorious for one reason or another. Enough said.

In politics and business, there are similarly notorious works like The Communist Manifesto, Mein Kampf, The Anarchist Cookbook, Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (likely a forgery and used to vilify the Jews).

So, with those titles removed from the list, here are some of the most notorious books not used to protect and disturb business, fuel war or justify genocide.

All works by the Marquis de Sade for the sexual content, the violence, the skin covered publications and for Marquis de Sade's own personal history (his imprisonment and death in particular). For example, Justine et Juliette by Marquis de Sade was covered in the tanned skin from an unknown female’s breasts.

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis is notorious for the violence included although it is largely accepted as a work to keep in publication and circulation rather than to ban.

On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. The notoriety never ends as there is always someone who rejects the priciples of evolution for another version of human history.

Immanuel Cervantes’ Don Quixote. Its notoriety comes from the book's serious yet slapstick content, its era of publication and its mass popularity which lead to it being immediately pirated worldwide.

J.D. Salinger's The Catcher In The Rye was the most challenged book in America during the 1990s.

Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer has been in and out of favour throughout its history due to the content, which is quite raunchy and bawdy. But despite its fame as such it has always held a position of importance in English literary history.

James Joyce's Ulysses. This book was originally published as a serial in Little Review. After its publication censorship mavens confiscated the magazine. The editors were subsequently convicted for publishing obscenity.

To kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is an expose of racial prejudice in the Deep South, loved, disputed and hated for this fact alone depending on the reader.

Lady Chatterley's Lover by D H Lawrence was notorious after publication for its sexual content, particularly the suggestion of anal sex.

Naked Came the Stranger by Penelope Ashe and Mike McGrady (the brains of the get rich quick scheme). This book was instantly notorious because of its sexual premise. In it, a Long Island housewife named Gillian Blake is angry at her husband who has been fooling around. In retaliation she plans to have sex with every married man in the neighbourhood. The reason for this book being written was to gain money fast and it did indeed sell quite well despite being fairly poorly written.

Machiavelli’s The Prince is notorious for not only revealing the negative nature of humanity but also being a useful tool in teaching you how to use it your negative traits to gain and keep power. A guide to and warning of psychopaths and psychopathic behaviour.

The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook was published in 1954 and included a recipe for "Hashisch Fudge". A pleasing blend of fruit, nuts, spices and cannabis. 

John Cleland's 1749 classic Fanny Hill was banned repeatedly over the centuries for its sexual content. This book is not a literary masterpiece but it has been a massive money maker throughout its rocky history.

Huckleberry Finn has been constantly challenged for its realism. It has also been frequently banned in America for its language and the portrayal of a black man as a human being as well as a positive influence Huckleberry Finn. Huckleberry Finn shows the American population of the time in all its glory and despicability. There are depictions of friendship, mob mentality, brotherhood, racism, nurturing, slavery, comfort, fear, Godly and godless.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding caused a massive stir for its depiction of children being inherently animalistic and, depending on the interpretation, evil.
(This is one of the books I’ve most hated yet most appreciated in my life. Just the mention of it makes me feel sick. The title has the same impact on me as the word “war”.)

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov continues to be notorious for its expose of underage sexuality.

Through history most notorious books that aren't political, religious or business related have become notorious simply for the fact that they have touched up social taboos or revealed our horrible behaviour for what it is.

To write a notorious book now you'd likely have to pass over sexual taboos and even ones revolving around violence, both themes having been overworked throughout the past century, and find another issue to focus upon. 

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