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Thread: Violence and Sex in Liteature

  1. #1
    The Poetic Warrior Dark Muse's Avatar
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    Violence and Sex in Liteature

    There is this Historical Liteature forum I recently discovered and joined up with, and a discussion that was occuring there made me think of something I seem to frequnetly notice that I find intresting. And was wondering if I am just the wierd one, which would not surprsie me really.

    But anyway, they were talking about Ken Folletts book The Pillars of the Earth which I am reading right now and happen to love. But I noticed a lot of people complaining about the book because of its violence, and sex, in particuar scenes of rape within the book.

    I have also noticed there have been a few other books and authors there I have heard complaints about for simillar reasons. For one example there is this seiris I am reading about prehistoric America, by Micheal Gear and Kathleen O' Neal Gear and I have heard people complain about that serirs becasue of its occurances of rape.

    Though in my personal opinion in both these cases it was not excessively done and it was right in line with what would have really occured in the time period being written about.

    Really scenes of sex, violence and rape within a novel do not bother me if they fit well into the story.

    So I was just currious as to what other people feel about the portrayal of sex and violence within liteature.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

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    Watcher by Night mtpspur's Avatar
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    I am very uncomfortable with rape in literature as I cam rattle off at least three ladies (and actualy two more came to mind) I have known personally who have suffered that gross violation of the body and spirit and I will always have a sense of sadness/anger at the concept. There simply is no excuse for this inpostion of self upon another (unless consensual and really ought to be saved for marriage if I may be so old fashioned in thought and belief. BUT that said literature is a reflection of reality and this is but one of the sadnesses thereof. But one should NEVER take this lightly or 'wonder' about it. If you know someone you'll understand if you don't I envy you your ignorance,

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    The Poetic Warrior Dark Muse's Avatar
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    I am not making light of it, nor do I think its inclusion of it within lietature nessciarly does so. But the way I see it, if a person is going to write most particuarly a historical fiction then they should not just leave out all the parts that are not nice, because that is not how history was.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

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    Watcher by Night mtpspur's Avatar
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    Never for a minute thought you were making light of it thus my serious answer and my remark that literature reflects real life. It was a subject and question that deserved an answer from someone that's been there. Basically I noted you felt the use of the topic was in context and I applaud you for that. If I want gratutious sex and violence I can always read an Executioner novel (but that's popcorn and not to be taken seriously.) Yes history does tends to get santitized for the masses sometimes and an occasional wake-up call may be necessary to get a grip on reality. But for me I'm aways going to disturbed by and for that I make no apology. But again I did not and do not think you were making light of it--just thought you should get just a small taste of the real thing. For the record NONE of the ladies I have in mind are fully healthy in a positive way. And I still don't sleep well at night. We take our friend's pain personally--sometimes too much.

    With respect and hopefully said in a calm rational manner--Rich

    As to violence in historical novels--if you compare Hornblower/Sharpe novels both in the Napoleanic wars they is a vast difference in the descrption of mendying in the series. In Hornblower you are aware of the carnage of battle--in Sharpe you feel the pain and suffering big time. Does make a difference in the perception of the heroes. Hornblower maintains a certyain dignity--Sharpe always seems covered with blood and gore and madness.

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    Booze Hound Noisms's Avatar
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    I've never understood people being offended by what characters do in books either. Just because a character is doing or saying something absolutely awful, it doesn't mean the author is condoning it.

    Can you imagine somebody criticising Shakespeare because of what his characters get up to? (They probably get up to a lot worse in some plays than anybody does in the books you've mentioned.)

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    The Poetic Warrior Dark Muse's Avatar
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    It just surprsies me how many people will crizitze a book or author because they write such scenes in thier works. I just never really thought of it before, I guess becasue I read a lot of historical fiction and well rape and violence to some degree are always present themes in such books becasue that is what would have happend back then.

    And I really do not think the author is condoning such by writing it into his chars, as in most the cases I have ever read, the perpitrator of such acts was clearly a bad guy and not someone you were suppose to like, but someone you rooted against.

    In fact there is this excellent book called The Lion if Ireland by Morgan Llwelyn about this couple that were put in an arranged marraige but he really did love her but prior to the marraige she was raped and it showed how that ruined the relationship they could have had, becasue she could never really trust her husband and was ashamed of what happend but would not tell the truth so he tried his best to be patient with her and care for her but she would never let him touch her or show her affection and he did not understand why which began to frustrate him.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

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    a new ecology NikolaiI's Avatar
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    I think I know what you're talking about in the novel of prehistoric America. I was reading the book but never finished it...of course it may be a different one in the series...now trying to remember all the names. Wolf-Dreamer was the protagonist...okay, the title of the book comes to mind now, People of the Wolf. Anyway, it wasn't bad to read. There's violence in Ender's Game.....one reason the rape in People of the Wolf wasn't so bad or shocking to read was because it was set in a lost place and time, now inaccessible. Erm, I dunno why. But I don't think reading about rape would cause more rape; it might cause less, because we see how awful it is and it raises our consciousness.

    And Rich, if you knew every woman you know had been raped (I mean, if you knew the ones that had, had) then your number would be a lot higher. I know of 10-15 I think...and at least or only one male. An old statistic is 1/4.
    Moi an olge agus tiocfaidh sí, "Praise the child and she will flourish."

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    The Poetic Warrior Dark Muse's Avatar
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    Yes People of the Wolf is the first in the seiris, I am on the secound book now, and I had someone tell me they did not like those books becacuse of the violence and the rape, but at least in People of the Wolf, I did not think it was like excessive or out of context to the story.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

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    loquacious cat mrawr
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    Hmm, i was disturbed by reading Clockwork Orange, a book about both ultraviolence and rape, but I'll admit that I enjoyed having my boundaries provoked, and I would argue that the point made through the violence is a good one.

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    a new ecology NikolaiI's Avatar
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    "The Gap Cycle" has a ton of violence, but I think it's great science-fiction.
    Moi an olge agus tiocfaidh sí, "Praise the child and she will flourish."

    Moondog - Elfdance

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    This reminds me of something an AP Exam Question said several years ago: In truly great literature, no scene of violence exists for its own sake. And I wholeheartedly agree. If this is a good piece of literature, then there's a point to the violent scene we are witnessing and must contribute to the meaning of the work as a whole.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Muse View Post
    Yes People of the Wolf is the first in the seiris, I am on the secound book now, and I had someone tell me they did not like those books becacuse of the violence and the rape, but at least in People of the Wolf, I did not think it was like excessive or out of context to the story.
    I enjoyed the first book in this series. I never picked up any of the others, but not because I disliked the story. I may have to get the others now to read having been reminded that they exist. How many books is the series up to now?

    As for sex and violence in a story... it depends on the story and the way that it is approached. In People of the Wolf, I felt it was rather tastfully approached, and it was important to the story. I've issues when it is merely tossed into the story for shock value and adds no insight or importance to the tale. I feel certain subjects should be used sparingly in storys, and they should only be included if it is VERY important to the plot.

  13. #13
    The Poetic Warrior Dark Muse's Avatar
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    I currnelty have 6 books but there are still a few I do not yet have, I am not quite sure how many total there are

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

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    It depends, with me. There are very few things I won't read on moral grounds (quality's another matter). Sabbath's Theater, for instance, is (over)loaded with sex, but in that book it came out as more of a conceipt than an attempt to shock, mainly because it drives the character's and plot. Even I have my limits, though, and there are a few books I simply will not touch because I find the premise repugnant.

    Violence I can tolerate in almost absurd levels, but if it's simply for shock value, I find myself more bored than offended.

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    Fingertips of Fury B-Mental's Avatar
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    Personally, I would rather have someone address the issues in historical novels, without romanticizing the era or conditions. I have friends that say, "Oh, I was born into the wrong era. I really wish I was born into such and such times." I can easily break down their romantic image of a time such as that versus the liberties and technologies they take for granted.

    I do find that as I grow older the excessive use of violence is not necessary for most plots.
    "I am glad to learn my friend that you had not yet submitted yourself to any of the mouldy laws of Literature."
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