Friday, September 11, 2009
In honor of Banned Book Week - and nice recent drought-busting showers - I write about The Rainbow and rainbows. Nice double rainbow for a cheapo camera, eh?
D.H. Lawrence wrote The Rainbow in 1915, which had little to do with rainbows as much as the sexuality versus sensuality of a young married couple. It was immediately banned as pornography and the writer was prosecuted and all the published books were burned. Today, The Rainbow seems to not even be very racy, but back then it was quite a witch hunt.
When I was at the University of Texas I was in the Plan II English Department, where I happened to discover that the Ransom Center had the very manuscripts that D.H. Lawrence wrote The Rainbow. This was rather mind-blowing in itself, the boxes of lined paper that the author actually put his hand to in pen in long-hand, in three revisions and a master editing version that was typed by a secretary. Naturally, I also had the final published version as well. My paper tracked the changes over the four versions, while at the same time following where D.H. Lawrence was living and his biography. It was rather cool stuff.
How come my favorite artists all got banned? Even in the 1970s, books like Huckelberry Finn was banned from some schools and libraries, and there were the famous "music wars" where Frank Zappa confronted the US Senate regarding a possible ban on nasty rock lyrics (remember Tipper Gore?). Today, the epicenter of book banning is the Texas Education Commission, which pre-approves books for all the public schools K through 12. They're pushing evolution as an "alternative" to intelligent design and pushing bible classes now.
I'll leave you with that scary thought. Perhaps it is best to reflect on ... a rainbow.