Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Books That Glamorize Incestuous Relationships.....

Oedipus Rex by Sophocles

This is where it starts. Thanks to Freud, the story of the young man who unwittingly kills his father and marries his mother has long been treated as an expression of every male child's unconscious desires. In the actual play, it is Oedipus's desire to "find the truth" that is fatal, with everyone else (including mother Jocasta) advising him to stop probing. Best not to know.

Metamorphoses by Ovid

There are plenty of nasty couplings in this collection, and none more disturbing than the story of Myrrha, who lusts for her father Cinyras. To frustrate her passion she tries to hang herself. A maid saves her and helps her consummate her desire with her drunken father. When he chases her from his court, the gods turn her into the eternally weeping myrrh tree.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

A story of forced incest that turns out to be something different. Celie, the heroine of Walker's novel, writes letters to God telling her story of suffering. Aged 14, she is repeatedly raped by her "father", Alphonso. After many misadventures, however, she discovers that he was in fact her step-father. She is liberated, and inherits his land.

Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving

Plot synopsis can hardly do justice to this rambling, variously comic and tragic saga, which tells of the fortunes of the hotel-owning Berry family. One of the five children is John, the narrator, who loves his sister Franny with a special intensity. Their union is described in peculiar detail.

Suggested Reading for High School (Grades 9–12)

Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony.
Sinclair, Upton. The Jungle.
Sophocles. Oedipus Rex.
Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath.
Steinbeck, John. The Pearl.

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