Friday, April 15, 2011

Dangerous literature.

There is definitely a reason why I have to keep a list of the books I read. In my last update I completely forgot to mention the most recent book I read: Uten en tråd (Without a Stitch) by Jens Bjørneboe!

This is not a fabulous work of literature. It does not compete in the same league as his Moment of Freedom, Powderhouse and The Silence, which are all part of a trilogy, but it's worth reading anyway.

The title of the book provides a hint as to what it's about: sex. The story is that of a 19-year-old girl (Lillian) who suffers from inhibitions when having sex and who cannot achieve an orgasm with a man. One of her friends tells her to go to a doctor who specializes in the area. We get to follow Lilian's treatment with this doctor and a subsequent backpacking trip in Europe where she puts some of what she has learned to practice.

Except for the very beginning this book is highly amusing. The beginning loses some force due to it being a bit too serious; you don't really get the feel of the rest of the book, which is really quite sarcastic. It was written as a criticism towards conservative sexual morality that turns sexuality in general and feminine sexuality in particular into something shameful. A recurring theme is Lillian seeing the face of her mother and grandmother at inappropriate times, and the doctor asking her how she can be so ashamed when she isn't harming anyone.

Perhaps I should mention that it was written in 1966 and was banned by the authorities? It was actually the last book that was ever banned in Norway, and what happens when your book is banned? You get lots of attention! As a side note, I think it was John Cleese who thanked Norway for banning Life of Brian...

"Banned in Norway!"

What I liked most about Without a Stitch was actually the text found at the end, "Instead of a defense speech", which is an attack on Norwegian society and double standards. Why is unlimited violence and sexual violence towards women permitted (he mentions some other publication involving women and baboons that was not banned), whereas sexuality seen from the point of view of a woman is so despicable?

Right now I'm very much in the mood for classics, so I think I'm going to stay in the 19th century for a while. When I come back, I will read more of Bjørneboe's books.

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