Rape Scenes and The Death of Literature

Here goes another long rant post, written in the dead of the night.

I was reading this blog post about how people attacked R. Scott Bakker about the rape scenes in The Prince of Nothing. I guess those people would drop dead if they saw some of the rather gruesome pieces of Turkish literature. There was this novella I read in high school, many years ago, and that one packed more horrible, gruesome, gory rape scenes than the entire ASOIAF and The Prince of Nothing combined. A lesser known piece by a very famous, well respected author of the late 19th-early 20th century Ottoman-Turkish literature. I don’t want to repeat any details but if I say the necrophilia was the tamest scene, it should give a pretty good idea what a shocking piece it is.

The story was first published in 1913 and it has been in short story and novella collections of the author, placed in loads of school libraries nationwide, cause the man penned quite a few classics of the 20th century Turkish literature. They bundled it up in the same books with his other family friendly stories as Turkish classics and the bookish kids read it. We are talking about 10-12 year olds here, people! I was a teenager when I read it and I had a pretty high tolerance of gore and grim stuff being a black metal listener and horror movie lover, but I found it quite disturbing.

The author had served as an infantry lieutenant in the Balkans during the 1903 Macedonia conflicts and the story was inspired by the war atrocities he heard about while he served in the conflict zone.

I just looked up the novella on this Turkish forum site with millions of users and people wrote how it haunted their nightmares and ruined their psyche when they had the misfortune of reading it at the school library when they were kids. Oh dear. Did I mention the necrophilia was the tamest thing in the whole story?

Now I am not saying it’s ok for underage kids to read such horrendous stuff, hell no, kids shouldn’t be exposed to literature like that and it was wrong for the Turkish school system to allow that particular story in the school libraries where elementary school kids could read it. Perhaps because the bureaucrats ruling the country aren’t that literate. If they actually read it, they probably would take it out of those anthologies targeting the school kids.

But those American college students and the other 30-something 40-somehing whiners are friggin’ adults and it makes me cringe to see them try to whine and bully their way into censoring literature, art and culture. They are behaving like overgrown 10 year olds. I guess the 21st century people have become fragile little flowers who whine trigger this trigger that like no tomorrow and can’t stand even a 2 line mention of rape in a book. Such as the crap people gave Mark Lawrence over Jorg hinting about raping a farm girl in Prince of Thorns. Or the shitstorm R. Scott Bakker received over the rape scene in The Prince of Nothing.

I think the people -especially the American people- have become ridiculously coddled in this century. The modern books people whine about have nothing on the harsher pieces of literature from the past. Go read some 19th century literature to see what I mean. Especially the non-western literature if you can read it or find translations. Some of those put even the modern grimdark fantasy books to shame and I seriously doubt they could see the light of day if they were written today. Not meaning to disrespect the modern day grimdark, it’s my favorite genre after all, but you know people published some harsh pieces of literature back in the day and no one made half as much noise as the people of this day and age.

Let literature be free. If you find it offensive, don’t read it. Grimdark books should be pretty damn obvious, they are not about flowers and fluffy bunnies, you know. I can’t understand why on earth people read those books then whine about how offensive they are and how it shattered their little glass shelters and ruined their day. Too bad there’s no English translation of the 1913 Turkish novella I mentioned. I have written this whole post cause a friend of mine, dear Anna Smith-Spark is unable to find a publisher for her book cause it’s ‘too dark to be published’, well I read the early version of it and I can safely say that it’s nowhere near as dark as the aforementioned war crime gorefest Turkish novella. I think the publishers of the old times were more about contributing to the collective culture of the mankind than making money. Many of them did it out of love and catered to elite intelligentsia sort of readership, for the literacy rates were considerably lower back then. Publishing was more about producing culture and not an industrialized capitalist machine as it is today. Literature was definitely more free.

Stuff happening in works of fiction doesn’t disturb me no matter how gruesome and harsh it is, but the publishing industry becoming more like Disney and Mac Donald’s and favoring the cookie cutter pulp fiction does. Rape scenes in books are fictional but the rape of literature is quite real.