Hi all! Nona Raines here. I love sexy reads, don’t you? I think most people do, even if they have to pretend otherwise. Women today no longer have to be embarrassed about reading erotic romance or other “unladylike” material–thank goodness we no longer live in the Victorian Era! (Though from what I understand, erotica was very popular during that era–even if it had to be enjoyed on the down-low.)
While I was doing some research for a romance, I came across some interesting information on five novels that were originally banned upon their release for being too controversial. Some of them are today considered literary classics!
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne—published in 1850. Now this book has been on many high school reading lists, and actually contains no sexually explicit material. But its heroine, Hester Prynne is an adulteress and has a baby as a result of an extramarital affair. Because of this, some people felt that this was an inappropriate topic for a work of fiction. As the book became popular, a Reverend Arthur C. Coxe attempted to have the book banned in 1852. Over the years, The Scarlet Letter has faced challenges, one as recent as 1982 in Ohio. (Perhaps those objecting to the book felt Hester, in spite of having to wear the scarlet letter A, was not punished sufficiently for adultery? The book actually portrays her in a much more sympathetic light than it does her partner in adultery or her husband.)
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert is another classic work of literature that has faced attempts at censorship. It so shocked the public when it first appeared in 1856 that the author was placed on trial on obscenity charges. Those familiar with the story may remember that the book’s main character indulged in two extramarital affairs before falling deeply into debt and committing suicide. The attempts to ban the book failed when the author was acquitted in 1857 and thereafter Madame Bovary became a bestseller (of course). When are people going to realize that the best way to insure a book’s popularity is to censor it? People want to find out what all the fuss is about!
Peyton Place by Grace Metalious—published in 1956. If you haven’t read the book, chances are you’ve seen the movie starring Lana Turner. The film had to be toned down somewhat, but still managed to cover much of the novel’s themes of unwed motherhood, adultery, sexual abuse, rape and even abortion. Though the term “Peyton Place” became shorthand for any small town dirty secrets and hypocrisy, the book was banned in Boston and the entire state of Rhode Island.
Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller was originally published in 1934, but banned in United States until 1961. Even after the book was published, booksellers in 21 states faced obscenity charges for selling it. The book is a blend of autobiography and fiction narrated by the main character Henry Miller. “There are many passages explicitly describing the narrator’s sexual encounters.” (Wikipedia article, Tropic of Cancer)
Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence. Though one version was published in 1928, the unexpurgated version not published until 1960 in the UK. The book was also banned in Australia, Canada, and the U.S. . This novel features explicit sexual encounters between married Lady Chatterley (whose husband was paralyzed due to a war wound) and the game keeper Oliver Mellors. In addition to the explicit love scenes, the terms found in the story (relating to sex acts and body parts) contributed to charges of obscenity.
The book’s UK publisher, Penguin Books, faced trial under the Obscene Publications Act of 1959 and was forced to prove the book had literary merit to justify publication. The jury delivered a verdict of not guilty in November 1960.
My goodness! It only goes to show that the more a book is banned, the more popular it becomes. Everyone wants to find out what all the fuss is about!
Inquiring minds want to know–what’s *your* favorite sexy read?
Have a wonderful weekend, all!
Hot Contemporary Romance
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