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Profanity In Literature

April 20, 2010

‘Literature’ doesn’t have curse words. Maybe one or two for emphasis, but more than that seems crass. And let’s face it, even if us writers are striving for authenticity, it wouldn’t exactly behoove us to copy down every “like” and “ummm”  that strolls itself into our every day conversation. Besides, sometimes curse words in particular give an easy shock value, like when a comedian screams “FUCK!” and expects his/her audience to laugh–there’s no talent in throwing profanities around. That being said…when they work, they work. I was reading this poem by Ryan Manning recently that I thought did a really good job of using profanities and I wanted to know what you thought.

Did you find this poem effective? When is profanity in literature/movies/songs effective?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 20, 2010 3:05 pm

    I would say. profanity is effective in poetry when its used in its true sense of the word. Look at the poem by Rayn Manning. The word fuck IS being used in its truest form. He couldn’t have used the expression “make love” as opposed to “fuck” simply what’s described here is a heart detached form of intimacy,which is the act to simply..”fuck”.

  2. attackoft3hrolo permalink
    April 26, 2010 12:18 am

    I think profanity should be handled the same way as all other linguistic ticks. If it makes sense for the characters, throw it in there. If it doesn’t keep it out. I know Nabokov came down very hard on cursing in literature, but frankly it just seems like this kind of immature, archaic, aristocratic bourgeois fear that a lot of writers and critics have. It’s just kind of silly. Most other artistic forms are way beyond that. Could you imagine a film being derided for profanity? A comic? A song?

    That may come across too black-and-white. There are plenty of writers and critics who don’t have that immature-archaic-aristocratic-bourgeois complex that makes them uncomfortable with profanity in literature. But it is extremely, extremely rare that profanity is actually ‘obscene’ or ‘gratuitous.’ Profanity is how people talk. It’s like people complaining about homosexuality or (accurate depictions/discussions of) sex. Who gives a fuck if it offends you? It’s real. Or are you going to be the douchebag that reads the copy of Huckleberry Finn where they took all of the instances of the word “nigger” out?

    • April 26, 2010 6:38 am

      I don’t know what the CENSOR you’re CENSORING about. That is CENSORING ridiculous. How do you think you can even state that, you CENSORED piece of CENSOR? People like you don’t deserve the 1st ammendment, mother CENSORER, and if you ever publish a book accomplishing your CENSORY ideals, I’m going to blow you the CENSOR out of the mother CENSORING water, you CENSORhead.


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