Adult books for children

Do you think that certain books should be kept away from children?

I would generally have said no:

Freedom of speech! No to censorship!

Being in touch with reality is important!

It’s preparation for the real world!

But then I realised that as a teenager I’ve read a few of those books and sometimes I wish I hadn’t…

  1. Fowles’ The Collector. I still struggle to find the artistic value in it.
  2. Three Comrades – pretty dark. I guess given the amount of “white lies” we tell kids the disillusionment has to start at some stage, but there is something hope-shattering in this. Same as in Maupassant’s Bel Ami 
  3. Anthony Burgess’ Clockwork Orange.
  4. I won’t make many friends by saying I don’t like The Catcher in the Rye – and it fascinates me how it became popular among teenagers. Ew though.
  5. Lolita. Goes without saying.

When you think about it, Anna Karenina even is quite PG. Then again so is nearly all of Shakespeare. I think that it’s easier not to suspend disbelief with things written in super archaic or unfamiliar language – same with the Greek myths, hence they don’t hit as hard. Perhaps that’s the reason most of my books non grata come from the last 150 years.

Have you ever regretted reading a work of fiction?

7 thoughts on “Adult books for children”

    1. When I write something, I have no idea who is going to have an interest in reading it – it turns out that the average age of my readership is much higher than my own. I didn’t expect that. I therefore imagine that people who write books don’t necessarily know who will like them when they write them. When people write something as heartfelt as Three Comrades, they couldn’t be tbinking “whose my target audience” – or do you think they do? (Obviously Clockwork Orange and Lolita are for a mature audience)

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  1. MPAA ratings exist, I’d say, primarily to avoid lawsuits. There’s some pretty darn racy stuff on Netflix (or just the web in general). But theaters are beholden to the MPAA so that government doesn’t feel compelled to step in and censor content. Is there such a thing for novels?

    In literature, I’d figure that some of the most nuanced writing would be lost on the average YA (or younger) reader, regardless of explicit content. And so would be found in the adult section of the library. I read some darn explicit stuff when I was in my early teens – Shibumi, and Clan of the Cavebear, among others. Whoa! Heavy stuff (my mother read them, and I clandestinely confiscated them when she was done).

    Regret reading? Hmm, that sounds heretical to me.

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  2. Nobody, even a grownup, really wants to see the Medusa smile. Sometimes, though, we don’t know that’s what we’re signing up for. The desire to protect children from that experience, if only for a little while, seems more compassionate than moralistic. I encourage Bible reading, but the Bible easily makes the list of “too traumatic for children.” I agree with you about Catcher in the Rye.

    Liked by 1 person

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