Many authors have been branded as being controversial over the course of history. What is viewed as controversial varies over time and what constitutes controversy in one era may well not in a later one. The following blog post is dedicated to two authors, widely regarded as being controversial, who will always be remembered as being pioneers by the literary establishment.
(September 11th 1885 – March 2nd 1930)
Notable works: Sons and Lovers, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, The Rainbow.
David Herbert Lawrence to give him his full name, was a novelist, short-story writer, poet, playwright and literary critic, in addition to being a talented painter. Born into humble means as the son of a coal miner, D.H. Lawrence went on to become one of the most influential writers of his generation. Controversy courted the writer incessantly, primarily because of the perceived explicit nature of his works.
His novel The Rainbow (1915) for instance faced an obscenity trial and was banned, all copies being seized and burnt by the authorities. One of his most famous novels, Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928) though published was heavily censored, due to what was regarded at the time as its pornographic content.
D.H. Lawrence was eventually forced into a voluntary exile, where after a sustained period of poor health, he succumbed to tuberculosis in France, at the age of only forty-four.
The controversy did not end with his demise. In 1960 Penguin attempted to publish the original version of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, but were forced to go to trial due to the ‘Obscene Publications Act’ of the previous year. However as the book was deemed to be of literary merit, it was allowed to be published. In the more permissive era in which we live the controversy surrounding D.H. Lawrence has all but been extinguished and he is now remembered fondly as a literary pioneer and one of the most talented writers of his generation.
Click here to read resident book reviewer Adam’s review of Sons and Lovers.
Bret Easton Ellis
(Born: March 7th 1964)
Notable works: American Psycho, Glamorama, The Informers.
Author Bret Easton Ellis’s third novel, the infamous American Psycho (1991) caused uproar even before its release date. The book was viewed by many in the literary establishment as scandalous; no mean feat in a period of permissive tolerance. The reasons for this were the book’s explicit violent and sexual content as well as its perceived misogynistic elements. American Psycho went on to become a cult classic and one of the most influential books of the nineties.
Easton-Ellis has continued to cause controversy ever since, not only through his books but also with his incendiary Tweeting habits, which have included crude and controversial Tweets on such sensitive subjects as HIV and Aids. These comments have left the author open to accusations from some that they are nothing more than publicity stunts. One might argue that controversy appears to be such an integral part of the author’s identity that he will never be able to willingly abandon it.
Whilst the author and his books are certainly an acquired taste, there is no doubt that Bret Easton Ellis’s destiny as a literary pioneer and social commentator is assured. His works, particularly American Psycho, will be studied and debated for centuries to come.