Friday, February 1, 2013

A Short Musing on Literature and Language

Isn't it interesting how we may read or watch something and think it's wonderful entertainment until we read or watch it with our children? 

I just finished re-reading "Relic" by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, which is among my favorite books. I keep telling my husband to read it, and I was even encouraging my teenage sons to read it, but as I finished it again I am hesitating now on the latter recommendation. There is a lot more language in it than I remembered. It's not on every page, nor is it every character, but there are a large handful of f-bombs and other such swears that make me hesitate to share it with my kids. 

I know, they tell me all the time, that they hear every word under the sun at school. And worse. But they don't hear it from me, nor from my direction. So I'm pulling back a little, no longer pushing them to read "Relic", even though they would really enjoy the adventure and heart-thumping thrill ride of the book. Pooh.

Why is it that most adult fiction authors write characters that use foul language so freely? I'm also curious when it became widely accepted. I know real people use it all the time-- some even in public where anyone can hear them-- as though proudly proclaiming: Look at me! I'm swearing and you can't stop me!

And, I suppose, the way a character talks is a large part of how an effective author differentiates between them and helps you to really get to know them. 


I've read many, many books where the characters were just as well defined without using swears. Sometimes the author writes something like: he answered, cursing, "I don't know". but they don't actually put in the curses. What would it take for this to become the norm? 

A miracle, I suppose.

Of course, I have the same problem with sex scenes in entertainment. It's actually more entertaining to me for the characters to smile knowingly and close the door to END the scene, rather than having the characters/actors perform it for me. I wouldn't watch a real live couple doing that, why would I want to watch these actors? But I'm getting away from my initial point.

It's frustrating to try and balance between living in the modern world and trying to protect my ears and mind (and those of my children) from offense. 

Because foul language is offensive. Or it wouldn't be used the way it is.

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