Sunday, February 24, 2008

An Infernal Canon

There has been debate in local and international media recently that there should be a canon of texts decided upon and taught to the young (Denmark has one, Australia may need one and Sweden seems to have voted for one).
I find the canon a difficult concept to come to terms with as the texts I tend to like nobody else does - both Facebook and Myspace my 'favorite books and films' often leaves me the only one on the list when I click on the link to each of their names:-(
After listening to a swedish radio program where it was suggested we need to formulate and adhere to a literature canon as quickly as possible, I started making a list of books which have had a tremendous impact on me. I call it the Infernal Canon, not due to it's Satanic bent as much because it seems to center around the weaknesses of humanity and the dark depths of the soul. Welcome to my canon (I think everyone should have one). In no particular order:

Doris Lessing, Briefing for a Descent into Hell (1971)

Junichiro Tanizaki, Diary of a Mad Old Man (1962)

Georges Bataille, The Story of the Eye (1969)

Yasunari Kawabata, House of the Sleeping Beauties (1961)

M. Ageyev, Novel With Cocaine (1934, 1984)

Paul Bowles, Let It Come Down (1952)

Toni Morrison, Beloved (1987)

Joris-Karl Huysmans, Against Nature (1884, 1928)

Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited, The Sacred & Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder (1945)

William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch (1959)

Aleister Crowley, Diary of a Drug Fiend (1922)

Shohei Ooka, Fires on the Plain (1951)

Banana Yoshimoto, Kitchen (1988, 1993)

Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory (1940)

Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Devil on the Cross (1980, 1987)

Antonin Artaud, Heliogabalus, or the Crowned Anarchist (1934)

William Golding, The Double Tongue (1995)

Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale (1985)

Kathy Acker, Blood and Guts in High School (1984)

André Gide Strait is the Gate (1909)

Nick Cave, And the Ass Saw the Angel (1989)

Jean Cocteau, Opium: The Diary of a Cure (1958)

Arthur Rimbaud, A Season in Hell/ The Drunken Boat

Allen Ginsberg, Indian Journals (1978)

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