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Thread: Ugly Literature?

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by stlukesguild View Post
    I can't help you. I'm a sworn adherent to the philosophy of Oscar Wilde: "The artist is the creator of beautiful things."

    "There is something terribly morbid in the modern sympathy with pain. One should sympathise with the colour, the beauty, the joy of life. The less said about life's sores the better."
    I enjoy Wilde's wit as much as anyone, but surely you can recognize the unnecessary simplification of the above statement? You enjoy Blood Meridian, Macbeth, Moby-Dick, Wagner, late Beethoven, Goya's black paintings, etc., don't you? The depiction of suffering in such works is not equivalent to an endorsement of suffering. The true reason why we are attracted to such works is no doubt too complex for me to understand perfectly, let alone capture in a little post on LitNet, but I think it has something to do with an enthusiasm for as clear a view of the world as possible. The search for truth, Keats' Grecian Urn aside, will unearth other things besides beauty. I'm not sure that this 'sympathy with pain' has anything to do with morality, in fact I agree with Wilde's other statement that 'there is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book'. Nonetheless, the exclusion of pain from any medium would leave artwork produced in said medium really, really boring.

    As for the OP, the only thing I can think of to recommend that's a really great, gritty work of art isn't a literary text, it's a punk rock album: Daydream Nation, by Sonic Youth.

  2. #17
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    When as a teenager I began to read Last Exit to yon place I found it ugly. But I guess I had the squeamishness of youth still on me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by amidnightdreary View Post
    120 Days of Sodom by the Marquis de Sade

    If you haven't read any of his stuff, it is not that sexy nice TV sadism at all. That book is disgusting to the point that I wasn't sure if I was supposed to laugh or not. But I marveled at the sheer creativity. Very ugly book, don't be fooled by the time period in which it was written. I have a copy of the book that says it was only saved (de Sade never saw its publication; he assumed it lost after the sacking of the Bastille) as an artifact of human depravity for brain doctor sociologists whatever to study lol. Later it became general fiction.

    My history of the book is hazy because I haven't read it cover to cover, and I haven't read it at all in almost 2 years. But it's definitely a unique book, both for its history and its content.
    Thanks, know it. Nice, but too classical, as well as too much into gore. Im looking for mean, not disgusting.

  4. #19
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    Quite a few modern Scottish books are both ugly and bizarre. The Wasp Factory is a contrived text that is meretricious and ugly for the sake of shocking the reader. There is no point to it that a better author could not make in a more subtle way. Having said that he did mature a bit as an author. I'm always dubious of those who have only ever been writers. Same as ministers who go in for the ministry too early in life.

  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eiseabhal View Post
    Quite a few modern Scottish books are both ugly and bizarre. The Wasp Factory is a contrived text that is meretricious and ugly for the sake of shocking the reader. There is no point to it that a better author could not make in a more subtle way. Having said that he did mature a bit as an author. I'm always dubious of those who have only ever been writers. Same as ministers who go in for the ministry too early in life.
    I'd say Banks matured quite a lot. That was just his first novel in a nearly 30-year career.
    You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -- Mahatma Gandhi

  6. #21
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    The depiction of suffering in such works is not equivalent to an endorsement of suffering.

    Of course not. But neither is the portrayal of what might be deemed traditionally "beautiful" proof of a lack of depth. Wilde would likely have agreed with the idea that Art can transform or transfigure a theme that may be "unpleasant". Much of the strength of some of Baudelaire's poems, McCarthy's Blood Meridian, or Goya's paintings is a result of the contrast... often unsettling... between that which might be deemed "ugly" or "horrible" or "unpleasant"... and the aesthetic beauty of the art. I suspect that Wilde would not have been an admirer of Goya or McCarthy... and Baudelaire is open to debate... as all really crossed the line into what he would have seen as "tasteless". As for Wilde's moral stance on "immorality" and art, I suspect that he would have seen nothing wrong with the graphic display or discussion of sexuality or "blasphemy"... but these would likely not have been a moral issue for Wilde... and certainly not something to criticize in a work of art. On the other hand, I suspect many subjects broaching what he deemed to be "ugly" or "tasteless" would have been deemed an aesthetic failure.
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  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by stlukesguild View Post
    The depiction of suffering in such works is not equivalent to an endorsement of suffering.

    Of course not. But neither is the portrayal of what might be deemed traditionally "beautiful" proof of a lack of depth. Wilde would likely have agreed with the idea that Art can transform or transfigure a theme that may be "unpleasant". Much of the strength of some of Baudelaire's poems, McCarthy's Blood Meridian, or Goya's paintings is a result of the contrast... often unsettling... between that which might be deemed "ugly" or "horrible" or "unpleasant"... and the aesthetic beauty of the art. I suspect that Wilde would not have been an admirer of Goya or McCarthy... and Baudelaire is open to debate... as all really crossed the line into what he would have seen as "tasteless". As for Wilde's moral stance on "immorality" and art, I suspect that he would have seen nothing wrong with the graphic display or discussion of sexuality or "blasphemy"... but these would likely not have been a moral issue for Wilde... and certainly not something to criticize in a work of art. On the other hand, I suspect many subjects broaching what he deemed to be "ugly" or "tasteless" would have been deemed an aesthetic failure.
    True enough. Aesthetics is indeed a field in which the beautiful and the ugly frequently encounter each other. And the depiction of the traditionally beautiful, as you say, is not grounds for aesthetic dismissal. But I do believe that the interest in art really comes from a tension (I feel I'm being very vague here...), no matter whether the tension is very soft and well hidden, or overt and easily noticed. What makes a work of art interesting I feel has nothing so much to do with which variety of 'tension' it chooses to portray, but with something more complicated, perhaps with a mixture of our own experience and to what degree or depth the work of art speaks to that experience. But this is a difficult thing to write about, and at this point I would rather be silent than do it an injustice.

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    Thanks, but this is just workers aesthetic, not what I am looking for. (to last exit to Brooklyn). sonic youth: matter of taste, but not really mine. As for Wasp factory: definitely no. Too slow, classical, normal ion a sense. Same for Baudelaire.

    But all more appreciated.
    Last edited by itsmepaul; 11-11-2014 at 03:29 AM.

  9. #24
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    Colourful despots! Maybe it's Gaddafi's Green Book as interpreted by HS Thompson yer after. Fear and Loathing by the Oasis

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    Goat Mountain by David Vann fills a lot of your criteria. Definitely an ugly book, but maybe too lyrical for your tastes.

  11. #26
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    The Obscene Bird of Night (Donoso)
    The Family of Pascual Duarte (Cela)
    No Longer Human (Dazai)
    The Silent Cry (Oe)
    The Key (Tanizaki)
    Recollections of the Golden Triange (Robbe-Grillet)
    Les Chants de Maldoror (Lautréamont)
    The Damned (Huysmans)

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    Thanks, thats a lot I dont know and will check out!

  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by stlukesguild View Post
    I can't help you. I'm a sworn adherent to the philosophy of Oscar Wilde: "The artist is the creator of beautiful things."

    "There is something terribly morbid in the modern sympathy with pain. One should sympathise with the colour, the beauty, the joy of life. The less said about life's sores the better."
    Inferno is ugly, no?

  14. #29
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    I would reiterate the recommendation for James Ellroy. From your original post I think "The Black Dahlia" & "White Jazz" pretty much fit the bill. Extremely fast, dark, gruesome, politically incorrect, etc.

  15. #30
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    Ugly literature? Hermanos.

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