Thursday, October 28, 2021

Sic Transit Gloria

I don't have a concern with the "white, male power structures" focus of the novel (you can easily use it as a critique of same, which I am fine with).  But frankly, I always considered it over-rated and profoundly British (i.e., English)-centric.  It had damned little to do with my life-experience growing up in East Texas.

Which also doesn't make it a bad book; it just relied so much on the English public school experience it always left me a bit flat when I was young; and I've never been drawn to it as a novel in my adulthood, when I better understood the milieu it came from.

"Classic," though.  Wasn't Twain's definition of a classic "a book which everyone praises and no one reads"?  Close enough, anyway.  And Lord of the Flies is "classic" only because it's been assigned to schoolchildren since time immemorial.  It's "safe," in other words, and nothing in it involves sex, transgendered characters, or abortions.  (I know, that's a lousy criteria, but it's the one that prevails 50 years after I left high school behind.)

Change is inevitable.  Change is also good.  Lord of the Flies has probably exceeded its shelf-life (!).  Of course, all changes in curricula are signs of creeping fascism; or socialism; or the closing of the educated mind; or something.

And as for the actions of the school board, this bothers me a lot more:

Other books recently removed from Canadian school libraries and/or curriculums in response to complaints about racist, homophobic, or misogynistic language and themes, include Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird and Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale.

Fear of themes is not really a reason to ban a book, unless those themes are pro-Nazi or pro-racism or something.  Then again, I quit reading books from my school libraries in junior high (I almost remember the last book I read from that library.  Or I think I do.)  My friends and I read widely, but mostly we purchased the books we read, or we got them at the public library.  Almost nobody read the books in the school libraries, so it little mattered what was there.  Banning books from schools doesn't mean you can't find them on Amazon, or at a bookstore.  Keeping books out of school libraries has been going on since school libraries started.

Keeping them wholly out of the hands of young minds, is another matter. 


  1. I thought Lord of the Flies was a really obnoxious book, written out of anthropological BS and not much else. Though it didn't annoy me as much as Catcher In The Rye.

    1. CITR was very much of its moment. And region, IMHO. Sort of like Updike. A flaw that doesn’t plague Cheever, though all 3 are pretty much from the same area (well, to a native Texan. All those teeny northern states look the same to us.)