This caught my eye the other day (from the Westmorland Gazette):
E.L. James vs. King James:
A HOTEL boss has swapped Bibles in his bedrooms for copies of the raunchy novel Fifty Shades of Grey – and the local vicar is not happy.
The Rev Michael Woodcock spoke of his dismay after hearing about the book of choice at the Damson Dene Hotel, Crosthwaite.
He said it was ‘a great shame’ to replace the Gideon Bibles at the rural retreat with an explicit, erotic novel.
Hotel manager Wayne Bartholomew said the move to install the steamy bestseller was in response to popular demand.
I find Bibles in hotel rooms annoying–they take up half the space in the bedside drawer that I need for other things. But they’re such a part of the cultural furniture that I don’t find them offensive, despite some of the horrors between the covers. There again, I don’t get offended easily. I do get pissed off. (For some that’s a subtle distinctin. The verb offend makes me think of prissy, purse-mouthed repressives, the kind of people who actively seek out situations that will register on their offend-o-meter. Perhaps I’m over-thinking this.) However, I suspect that if someone unexpectedly foisted Fifty Shades of Grey upon me I wouldn’t be pleased.
I’m not a fan of bad writing, even less of powerful-boy-dominant-on-not-powerful-girl-submissive SM fiction. It (cough) reinforces the master narrative, the dominant paradigm. In other words, it’s a cliché. And you all know I find clichés pernicious. And Fifty Shades hasn’t been around long enough for me to become inured to it.
14 thoughts on “E.L. James vs. King James”
Gene Autry? Roy Rogers? Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys?
I don't like any of that stuff. Maybe some western movie soundtracks, e.g. the Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns…
I have a friend who attends the working cowboy music festival in Elko, Nevada every winter. So based on her preferences, my first thought was Ian Tyson. Oh, and mine might be the soundtrack to the Magnificent Seven.
Yep, I'm thinking soundtracks might be the way to go. Ennio Morricone's The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly…
Though I hear (mostly from amazon reviews) that “Fifty Shades of Grey” is very poorly written, I would be happy to find it in a hotel room over a bible any day.
Not that I ever bother to open hotel drawers in the first place.
Now that I think about it it'd be funny to find fake dog poo. . .
The Gideon Bible is not the King James Bible. It is written in colorless prose such as we could get fron People Magazine. The King James Bible is written in the language of Shakespeare, which I still find beautiful, however horrifying or silly the stories might be. “The quality of mercy is not strained. It falleth as the gentle rain from heaven on the place beneath, on the just and the unjust alike.” It is an argument I once used to get an erranr and lying client's attornet's fees reduced. Sometimes it's practical to have a bible around.
Barbara, oops, you're absolutely right. It's been so very long since I actually opened one of those space-wasting things I'd forgotten.
I love the language of the King James bible–if not its sentiments.
I'm not a fan of either.
Patsy Cline. I'd put Patsy Cline on.
Groffe—Grand Canyon Suite—or Copland, Rodeo, Appalachian Spring, some of his movie soundtracks, or Respighi's Pines of Rome, which I always thought of as source material for great western soundtracks, or Conni Ellisor's Blackberry Winter. (I cannot abide 99% of “cowboy music” ala Autry and co.)
I know Copland of course–though I've never thought of “Appalachian Spring” as western music–but I've never even heard of the others. So much I don't know about this adopted country of mine…
Oh, you'd recognize the Groffe if you heard it, some passages have been cliches, but entire piece is brilliant. Likewise, I think, with the Respighi, but more as a source of influence for other work.
But you ought to check out Conni Ellisor.
There are some samples on the site. I think you might like it quite a lot.
It's just not true that Gideon Bibles are not King James Bibles. I have a Gideon New Testament around here somewhere that was pressed into my hands by Gideon missionaries handing them out on campus. I figured what the hell, having a pocket-sized copy handy so I can match prooftexts with stray Christians could be handy. It's the Authorized Version, aka the King James. (And what mountains of misinformation I've heard about the AV / KJV over the years! But that's another topic.)
It has been a decade or two since I saw any newer Gideon Bibles, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Gideons have gone along with American fundamentalists generally and begun handing out the New International Version. True, the prose of the NIV isn't as gorgeous as that of the AV, and it's often inaccurate, but I think “colorless prose” is better, because then the actual sentiments and teachings don't get obscured by the rhetoric. But I know, I know, if the AV was good enough for Jesus, it should be good enough for me …
Incidentally, I found a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey on the shelf at the library and checked it out to see what the fuss was about. I agree that it's not very good writing, and I don't intend to read the sequels, but I disagree, Nicola, that it can be reduced to “powerful-boy-dominant-on-not-powerful-girl-submissive SM fiction.” The protagonist resists and, at the end of the first volume, rejects Grey's scenarios in the name of love, romance and vanilla. I'm guessing that the trilogy is more like Jane Eyre or even Pride and Prejudice: headstrong, intelligent young woman refuses to be dominated by the overbearing tormented rich guy, and ultimately wins him on her own terms. Sort of like Anne Rice's Exit to Eden. (Remember that Rochester had to be broken, literally, before Jane would accept him.) Maybe I'll do a blog post on this, but first I'd have to reread Jane Eyre again…
I'm getting suspicious of the putdowns I've been seeing of Fifty Shades of Grey; they remind me of the equally off-target putdowns of Twilight, of which I've also read only the first book.
Have you read this Goodreads review of the book? I read it a few days ago and believed it. Which means that, yes, in my opinion the book's protagonist (like Jane Eyre) is abused and dominated psychologically. (I absolutely loathed Jane Eyre, which I studied at 'O' level a long, long time ago.)
Comments are closed.