Tag: Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Crash by J.G. Ballard

Posted August 9, 2017 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Classic / 0 Comments

Crash by J.G. BallardTitle: Crash (Goodreads)
Author: J.G. Ballard
Published: Harper Perennial, 1973
Pages: 185
Genres: Classic
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

I have always enjoyed transgressive fiction, not because it is controversial and it breaks free from the expectations of society, but because of its satirical nature. When exploring the darker side of humanity, you are always going to get some attention and let’s face it, controversy sells. I am drawn to transgressive fiction because it defies conventional literature. Where else do you get to explore addiction and antisocial behaviours in a safe environment? It is a philosophy in its self, a way to strip away everything and look at the act itself. In the essay “Preface to Transgression”, Michel Foucault described it as a place where, “…God is absent, and where all of our actions are addressed to his absence in a profanation which at once identifies it, dissipates it, exhausts itself in it, and restores it to the empty purity of its transgression.” To me, it sums it up more intelligently than I could, it is a place where morality and laws are stripped away, allowing us to explore the nature of the transgressive in detail.

The nature of transgressive fiction did mean that these novels got a lot of attention and many were banned or the subject of obscenity trials. Yet some of the classics in this genre helped explore the ideas found in psychoanalysis (a psychological theory dedicated to treating mental disorders by investigating the interaction of the unconscious and conscious mind) and psychosexual development (psychoanalytical field dedicated to sexual behaviour, in particular the Freudian theory of the five stages of sexual development). Behind all the controversy, I think of the underlying themes to be found in transgressive fiction is one of self-discovery in an unaccepting world. The term ‘counterculture’ comes to mind when thinking about transgressive fiction, but even before that term was penned, we had D.H. Lawrence exploring a love affair between two different classes in Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Georges Bataille taking an unconventional look at his relationship with his father in Story of the Eye.

When thinking about J.G. Ballard’s 1973 novel Crash, I was having a difficult time working out how it fit into the genre. When thinking of it in relation to psychosexual development, Crash does explore symphorophilia (coined in 1984 to refer to a paraphilia in which sexual arousal involves staging and watching tragedies like car accidents), autassassinophilia (a paraphilia where an individual derives sexual arousal by the thought and/or risk of dying), and/or car crash fetishism. It is certainly controversial, one publisher famously said, “This author is beyond psychiatric help. Do Not Publish!” about Crash, but what did this novel have to say about society? Just to give you some background about this novel, it originally was a short story in the 1970 book The Atrocity Exhibition. Written shortly after his wife’s sudden death, the book is a series of interconnecting stories that explores the idea of how mass media inadvertently invades and splinters the mind of an individual. Suffering a mental breakdown, the protagonist (a doctor in a psychiatric hospital) surrenders to the world of psychosis.

Knowing this, I was beginning to understand what J.G. Ballard was trying to explore in Crash. If you look at cinema and the impact the Hays Code had on movies you might better understand the drastic change to films in the 1970s. In 1968, the code was officially replaced with the MPAA film rating system, which lead to an influx of controversial movies full of sex and violence. I think some of the darkest and grittiest movies come from this era. So does that mean Ballard is exploring mass media sensationalising sex and violence?

The automobile has become a huge part of our lives, we rely and depend on it to get us around but the amount of car accidents that lead to death is extremely high. According to the Association for Safe International Travel (ASIRT), nearly 1.3 million people die in road crashes each year, on average 3,287 deaths a day, while an additional 20-50 million people suffer injuries from car accidents. Globally, a car crash is the 9th leading cause of death, but in the 1970s this statistic would be much worse. This means, a car accident will be one of the most devastating experiences in some people’s lives. So what is Ballard trying to say when he explores this idea of sexual pleasure from a crash? That, I will leave to the reader.

Another thing that stood out to me in Crash was the narrator was named James Ballard. Naming the protagonist after himself means that the reader has to ask some very confronting questions, because we cannot rely on the author to give us the answers. I think it was a brilliant move by J.G. Ballard, automatically we might think that this is a fetish of the author but this allows him to explore the “empty purity of [this] transgression”. We are confronted we a completely different perspective and in the words of Ballard about this novel “[he] wanted to rub the human face in its own vomit. I wanted to force it to look in the mirror.”

In the end, like all good transgressive novels, Crash did leave me with plenty to think about. I had a lot of issues with this novel, I think the repetitive nature really hindered my enjoyment. I am not going to write off J.G. Ballard completely, but I am unsure which novel to try next; I was thinking High Rise. I love when a book leaves me thinking, and even writing this essay, I think I have gained a great appreciation of this controversial novel. Maybe I will return to it in the distant future and see what I think.


Not Drowning, Reading by Andrew Relph

Posted December 7, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Non-Fiction / 4 Comments

Not Drowning, Reading by Andrew RelphTitle: Not Drowning, Reading (Goodreads)
Author: Andrew Relph
Published: Fremantle Press, 2012
Pages: 184
Genres: Non-Fiction
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

As a child Andrew Relph had a reading disability, but he never let that stop him. He realised the value and importance of reading and writing and worked harder to learn these skills. Now a psychoanalyst and professional conversationalist, Relph’s book Not Drowning, Reading explores his relationship with books and how they fit into his life experiences.

The title Not Drowning, Reading is a fascinating one and also comes with an interesting backstory. It references a time the author almost drowned but also is a perfect metaphor for how Relph felt during his school years struggling with a reading disability. A feeling of struggling to keep his head above water and not get lost in the depths of the educational waters seems to give me an idea of the battle he was having internally. It is interesting to think that he went from an internal battle into a career helping others with psychological struggles.

Divided into essays on his life, Andrew Relph explores the impact literature has had on his life with continual references to his career as a psychoanalyst. Considering I have an interest in psychoanalysing literature, this was a fascinating read for me and gave me plenty to think about. Relph shares his love for authors like Martin Amis, Saul Bellow, William Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf and to my disappointment D.H. Lawrence. In fact his thesis was centred on Lawrence and the psychoanalysis.

For those people who don’t know, I consider Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence as one of the worst books I have ever read. I will admit that I just didn’t get the appeal and have never returned to Lawrence again. There are plenty of reviewers I respect and trust that love the works of D. H. Lawrence and while I hate to admit this, I feel like I need help in understanding the appeal. Lady Chatterley’s Lover was read when I first started out as a reader and there would be a lot I missed but I also suspect that it wasn’t the best starting point for me as a reader.

Now I have had a rant about D.H. Lawrence, I should return to Not Drowning, Reading by Andrew Relph. This memoir is a very deep look at his life and literature through the lens of psychoanalysis;  this reminds me I need to learn about these literary theories but for others it might come across as a little dense. I was completely immersed and fascinated by what Andrew Relph had to say but I am well aware that compared to other memoirs about literature this might be too heavy on theory for some readers.

Olympia Press; Controversy & Erotic Fiction

Posted November 16, 2010 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 4 Comments

It’s hard to imagine a life without a freedom to talk openly about sex. Before the sexual revolution things were completely different and there were two publishers that pushed the boundaries. In 1929 an English man named Jack Kahane formed Obelisk Press, based out of Paris. His goal was to publish books other publishers would not touch for fear of prosecution. Though Obelisk Press went bankrupt, it paved the way for dbs (dirty books) later known as Erotic Fiction. Obelisk Press published books like Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, DH Lawrance’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover & James Joyce’s Haveth Childers Everywhere (often considered a working progress of Finnegans Wake).

While Jack Kahane laid the ground work, it was his son Maurice Girodias, who pushed the envelope on censorship. In 1953 Maurice started Olympia Press, a rebranded Obelisk Press which came under fire straight away for Austryn Wainhouse’s English translations of Marquis de Sade’s Justine. In a move that put Olympia Press under a lot more fire, Maurice started offering good money for dbs, though most of these books were eventually banned they were able to make a small profit before being removed from the shelves. Obelisk Press were responsible for such books like Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, The Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs & The Ginger Man by J. P. Donleavy.

Though both publishers ended in bankruptcy, they did pave the way with controversy and erotic fiction in English literature. Apart from the controversy it start the ball rolling for other authors and took the risk in publishing book others wouldn’t. What would books be like nowadays if no one printed books like Lolita, The Naked Lunch or James Joyce’s works?

Please Ban My Book, I Want it to Become Popular (Banned Book Week)

Posted October 2, 2010 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Listology / 0 Comments

This week is Banned Book Week, where we celebrate our freedom to read whatever we want. Though books still get banned and censored by the government, I think now is the time to look at some of the best and worst books that have been banned or censored.

  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was banned in the province of Hunan, China, beginning in 1931 for its portrayal of anthropomorphized animals acting on the same level of complexity as human beings
  • American Psycho has a sale and purchase restriction in the Australian State of Queensland. Sale is restricted to persons 18 years old or older in the other Australian states
  • Animal Farm banned in the former USSR and the author’s preface suppressed in nearly all of its editions during 1940 – 45
  • Brave New World was banned in Ireland in 1932 due to alleged references of sexual promiscuity
  • The Da Vinci Code was banned in Lebanon after Catholic leaders deemed it offensive to Christianity
  • The Diary of a Young Girl was also banned in Lebanon for “portraying Jews, Israel or Zionism favourably”
  • The Grapes of Wrath temporarily banned in many places in the US because it made the residents of this region look bad.
  • Lady Chatterley’s Lover banned in the United States and the United Kingdom for violation of obscenity laws
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four was banned by the Soviet Union in 1950, as Stalin understood that it was a satire based on his leadership, and it was nearly banned by U.S.A and U.K in the early 1960s during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
  • Ulysses was banned in U.K during the 1930s and in Australia during the 1930s to the 1940s and challenged and temporarily banned in the U.S.A for its sexual content
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin was banned in the Southern United States during the Civil War due to its anti-slavery content.

Nowadays books are still getting challenged and banned. One book that is currently under fire is Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak which tells the story of a teenage girl who deals with depression after become a victim of rape. The author has said the following about censorship;

But censoring books that deal with difficult, adolescent issues does not protect anybody. Quite the opposite. It leaves kids in the darkness and makes them vulnerable. Censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance. Our children cannot afford to have the truth of the world withheld from them.

Censorship and book banning seems to fling books into popularity more than some books deserve. For example Lady Chatterley’s Lover; if this book was never banned it would of just faded away into oblivion. Also there are many great books that have come under fire that really are spectacular books.

Also check out IO9’s 10 great science fiction novels that have been banned.

The Seat of Emotion

Posted September 17, 2010 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Philosophy / 8 Comments

Nowadays, the source of emotion and passion is considered to be the heart; poetically referring to the soul and physically tied to the feeling of love (increased heart rate & increased blood flow). Reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover, I’ve noticed DH Lawrence using the loins and bowels as the seat of emotion and passion, which got me thinking about the philosophy behind the heart. In earlier times (Biblical and Archaic) the bowels was the source of pity or compassion and the loins the source of strength and power.

Interestingly enough, some of the early philosophers and scientists including Aristotle considered the heart as the seat of thought as well as emotion and passion, often rejecting the value of the brain. But the Roman physician Galen was one of the first to consider the seat of passions to be the liver, the seat of reason to be the brain, and the heart to be the seat of the emotions.

Thought we don’t often talk about the liver in reference to passion it is often said that the liver governs anger, the kidneys fear (the adrenals sit atop the kidneys) the lungs sorrow/ depression and the stomach or spleen as the source of anxiety and worry. Though these physiological responses to emotion are often obvious, modern society considers the seat of emotion and passion to be the heart and the seat of thought to be the brain. The heart is often represented with the shape & typically coloured red suggesting both blood and passion or strong emotion.