The OF Blog: Would you want to read this book after encountering this passage?

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Would you want to read this book after encountering this passage?

Taken from Jean-Marie Blas de Robles' Where Tigers are at Home, p. 313 American hardcover:

THE VERY END OF THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY:  "In consideration of the criminal proceedings, charges and information, the interrogations, replies and confessions of the aforesaid prosecutor; of the replies and confessions of the accused made in the presence of his lawyer and everything that has been placed before us, we declare the aforesaid Legaigneux guilty in fact and in law of copulation with a female donkey belonging to the same.  As public atonement for this crime we condemn him to be hanged and strangled by the executioner, from a gallows that will be erected in such and such a place; and before this death sentence is carried out, the aforesaid female donkey will be stunned and killed by the aforesaid executioner at the aforesaid place, in the presence of the accused."

If the animal is punished it is because it shares responsibility for the act with the man:  the man guilty of sodomy has stooped to the level of brute beasts, but the donkey committed the unpardonable crime and raising itself to the level of thinking beings.  They are both "against nature."  By betraying the laws of the their species, they equally endanger the order of the world.

THE VERY END OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY:  "Accused of attempted sodomy with a dolphin called Freddie, Alan Cooper, 38, justified the act by saying that he was only masturbating the animal to gain its friendship.  His lawyers based his defense on the fact that dolphins are notoriously licentious and are some of the rare animals who indulge in the sex act purely for pleasure.  Alan Cooper risks ten years in prison if the charge of clear intention of rectal or vaginal penetration is accepted and life if sodomy is proved beyond reasonable doubt." (Newcastle upon Tyne, England.)

Nearly halfway into this 817 page book and this is a fascinating look at 17th and current human attitudes toward life, sex, and existence (among a great many other things).  It contains Latin passages regarding the fucking of a woman and her pleasure in having not just her vagina but her anus penetrated, the etymology of "piranha," and a plethora of other things such as 17th century attempts to decipher hieroglyphics.  Certainly not for the prudish, but then again, I suspect there aren't too many regulars here who are prudes.  The squirrel erotica to the right doubtless weeds those out, no?


Liviu said...

Where Tigers Are at Home is by far the top book of the year for me and I find it quite unlikely that another book will top it.

This being said I think that the passages you quoted are a bit misleading as they come within a sort of free association notes from Eleazard on anything from discussion with his housekeeper, to generic thoughts...

Overall I would not say the book is that shocking considering what is published today, but it is a masterpiece and moreover one that after about 100-150 pages when you get the sense of what's what, you cannot put it down, so engrossing it becomes.

Larry Nolen said...

Oh, I agree that the passage is misleading in the sense that it doesn't convey what the novel is doing (I just found it to be in turns amusing and a subtle commentary on the differences of past/present world-views, a point I'll explore hopefully in a formal review), but it does dovetail in a way with the larger commentary on how societies interpret behaviors.

Agree though that it is an engrossing read. At times, I was reminded of some of the best passages of Eco and Pynchon, among others, in the mixture of the scholarly and the profane to weave an even greater narrative tapestry.

Liviu said...

Also the Latin paragraphs are translated at the end and actually I think they are a good reminder that this is how people used to translate explicit scenes earlier - eg in the classical English translation (Eggerton??) of Golden Lotus which was full of such, while the current one of David Tod Roy (sadly unfinished with only 4/5) that doesn't happen.

Even Eleazard comments on this issue in the novel...

I am keeping an eye on the French sites for anything new from JM Blas de Robles as this books was quite successful in Europe at least

l.s. johnson said...

I hadn't heard of it, but now that you've posted this, and based on other reviews, it's already ordered. Just My Thing. Thanks for pointing it out!

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