The owner of a hotel in England recently replaced guest copies of the Holy Bible, the world’s bestselling book, with 50 Shades of Grey, the new soft-porn bestseller than inspires horny women to imagine torrid but poorly written fantasies. While I endorse creative marketing strategies and applaud freedom of physical expression, I can only assume that the hotel management also will provide discrete, brown wrappers for the family guests and disposable, battery-operated toys for those flying solo.
Because I can’t stop myself from noticing the epoch and conspicuous differences between the two books, I’ve noted an excerpt from each:
“As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among men. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste….Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for (his) love is more delightful than wine.”
— “Song of Solomon,” Old Testament, written 3,000 years ago
“I found some baby oil. Let me rub it on your behind.”
— 50 Shades of Grey, current bestselling novel
I don’t want to debate religion (thank God.) I’m merely questioning the literary value of certain bestselling books. It doesn’t take much imagination to slither into Anastasia Steele’s sticky bedroom where she exclaims with amazement, “I don’t remember reading about nipple clamps in the Bible!” But, it takes thought and reflection to get lost in Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (a personal favorite) or to feel the heartache described in The Help by Kathryn Stockett or to appreciate the wit of Olive Ann Burns in Cold Sassy Tree. Maybe it’s all a matter of balancing excellence with trash, much like enjoying the occasional corn dog at the Fair. But, it’s also important to use or lose the delicate sensory perception abilities that come from our brains to arouse the grey matter between our ears instead of between the sheets.
Ironically, there is a subtle connection with 50 Shades of Grey and A Tale of Two Cities – the all-time bestselling novel ever written. Biographers of the author Charles Dickens wrote that he believed that prolific sexual activity was necessary for a healthy man. The sub-plot for his great novel centers on the sexual exploitation of a young, powerless girl by an older, powerful man. Sounds like the prelude to 50 Shades…
There is no wine review this week because I’m on the exercise wagon driven by my super-healthy daughter. So, we’ll end with the opening lines from A Tale of Two Cities (notably appropriate for our current times.)
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”
— Charles Dickens
English Novelist (1812-1870)