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Haunted by Words

Scandalous Texts

Alyson Miller

This book critically examines a wide range of contemporary literary scandals in order to identify the cultural and literary anxieties revealed by controversial works. It explores how scandal predominantly emerges in relation to texts which offer challenging representations concerning children, women, sexuality, religion and authenticity, and how literary controversies bring to the surface a series of concerns about the complex construction of identity, history and reality. Including works such as J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series (1996–2007), Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho (1991), James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces (2003), Misha Defonseca’s Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust (1997), Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses (1988) and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy (1995–2000), the author analyses a broad spectrum of texts in order to examine why books continue to provoke public debate and outrage, and what the arguments surrounding scandalous works suggest about literature and the world.

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Table of Contents 5

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Table of Contents Introduction Haunted by Words: Scandalous Texts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Chapter One Unsuited to Age Group: The Anxieties of Children’s Literature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Framing the Child: Childhood, Children and Literature . . . . . . . 19 Igniting Debate: The Scandalous Texts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 ‘Feel Yer Tits?’: Sexual Content in Young Adult Literature . . . . 35 A Scandalous Absence: Controversy and Race . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Masterpieces of Satanic Deception: Transgressing the Sacred . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 An Anxious Connection: Children and Literature . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 Chapter Two Dismembering Women: Gender and Identity in Top-Notch Smut . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Femmes Fatales: Madame Bovary, The Well of Loneliness and Lady Chatterley’s Lover . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 Une Complicité Libertine: Reading Political Correctness in ‘Posh Porn’ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 ‘I Am A Completely Demented Misogynist’: Decoding American Psycho . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82 ‘This Is Not An Exit’: Re-Drawing the Boundaries? . . . . . . . . . 95 6Chapter Three The Art of Persuasive Lying: Faking it in Memoir . . . . . . . . . . 99 Fakes, Frauds and Forgery: Situating Literary Imposture . . . . . 103 Reimagining the Unimaginable: Victims of History . . . . . . . . . 114 Delusions of Domestic Tragedy: Victims of Abuse . . . . . . . . . . 135 Ethnic Vultures: Victims of Culture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151 Fake Revealing Fake: Authenticity as Effect . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 167 Chapter Four From Holy Books to Satanic Verses: Confronting the Sacred . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 169 A Question of Faith: The Politics of Critique . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 173 A Battle of Facts: The New Religion of The Da Vinci Code . . . 190 Drawing the Battlelines: The Politics of Nationhood . . . . . . . . 195 Out, Damn Whores: The Politics of Difference . . . . . . . . . . . . 209 The Atheist Possibility: Blaspheming Something New . . . . . . 219 Conclusion This is a Story: (Re-)Narrating the World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 225 Works Cited . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 229

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