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dehro
2011-10-13, 03:25 AM
I have bumped into his name and the Gorean saga several times over the years, not always in literary circles, and I am aware that there's an entire comunity (two actually, one online and one IRL) devoted to some "real" application of the lifestyle he describes in his books, which have to do a lot, in various degrees of closeness, with the BDSM comunity.. so I'm not going to delve into that side of things, because it may be inappropriate for a PG-rated forum, and because I'm not prone to passing judgement on other people's lifestyles.

Anyway, since it's still Fantasy literature and I was aware of the fact that the author was controversial and, according to some, wasn't finding a publisher due to the nature of his writing/ideas/philosophy, I decided to check things out for myself..
I've so far read only his first book and don't really see all that much that may be controversial to the point of him being looked at like some woman-hating monster who is not to be talked about..which is the impression I got from some possibly ill-informed conversations had about Gorean things in general.. (Is that even the "commonly held opinion"?)..
Either way, I fail to see why a fantasy book should be taken as a source of inspiration for a real life lifestyle..but then, I suppose it's nothing new either..a certain deceased SF author with a large worldwide following comes to mind..
and that, I don't get either...but again, would be discussing real world religion so let's not.

Aaanyway, going back to the book I've read.. first of a long list, apparently..

Yes, women are seen as objects and comodities, some of them even revelling in that status..but how is that new, shocking and unique? Plenty of fantasy worlds have cultures where women are enslaved objects of sexual interest and little more.. some even seem to be making the most of just that situation..so.. why all the hype?
So far, all I can see is that it looks like a decently written fantasy saga, that treats themes that aren't all that original (though they may have been when the books first came out) and does a good job of it.

so..is John Norman really a taboo subject/writer? or is he just affecting that status to boost his image and indulge in the cult following he's getting? (apparently he blames not being further published on generic "feminist influence".. whatever that means... which doesn't sound like an intelligent thing, but..hey.. what do I know?)
Have I missed something? do things change in further chapters of the saga?
what's the deal?

kamikasei
2011-10-13, 03:58 AM
I would suggest Google. Given the nature of the material, you're more likely to get useful detail outside this forum. Plus, it's hard to assess the validity of criticism you can't recall or link to.

Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gor#Criticism) has:

The Gor novels have been criticized for their focus on relationships between dominant men and submissive women, the latter often in positions of slavery. The Encyclopedia of Fantasy says, "later volumes degenerate into extremely sexist, sadomasochistic pornography involving the ritual humiliation of women, and as a result have caused widespread offence." Science fiction/fantasy author Michael Moorcock has suggested that the Gor novels should be placed on the top shelves of bookstores, saying, "Iím not for censorship but I am for strategies which marginalize stuff that works to objectify women and suggests women enjoy being beaten."
The basic objection I've seen from both feminist and BDSM directions is that the books and the fandom take the obnoxious "this kink isn't just a kink but is what all women really want but won't admit" tack. A consensual lifestyle choice is one thing, telling people it's the one true way that they too long for deep down inside is another.

dehro
2011-10-13, 04:12 AM
"later volumes degenerate into extremely sexist, sadomasochistic pornography involving the ritual humiliation of women, and as a result have caused widespread offence."
yes..I've read this.. but then, wikipedia is only as good as the latest editor of the item you're reading/searching..

so..is it true?

I was wondering if anybody had a direct opinion after having read it.. since it all starts out pretty much like any other mainstream fantasy novel, I figured there would be a few other forumites who might have given the books a go.
There's very little if any "kink", in the novel I've read.. which is well written enough for me to want to read the sequel.. (and no, I didn't go looking for the kink..I'm reading it because it's Fantasy, and so far that's all it is)
people who want to live their lives according to values described in a fictional tale... well.. let's not go there.. there are too many Books and too many sensitive issues for this forum.
The issue I have with people condemning books and movies and whatnot is that too often I've heard things like "have you read it then" and replies to the tune of "no..I don't have to read it to know it's filth" to be satisfied with a generic opinion read off a website... not if I can have a direct opinion from someone who I can reasonably assume has in fact read the books and formed an objection to them.
that said, real life applications aside.. I wonder if there's an objection to the literary value of the writing, or if indeed it dwindles down to wank material written with the lowest common denominator of being set in the same universe of, as I said, a fairly decent piece of fantasy writing.

as for the obnoxious take you so well describe in your post..yes, I've seen that all too often, and not necessarily relegated to male/female relations, of whatever nature.

Brother Oni
2011-10-13, 06:31 AM
yes..I've read this.. but then, wikipedia is only as good as the latest editor of the item you're reading/searching..

so..is it true?


I've only tangentially heard of the Gor series and wasn't aware of the criticism regarding the BDSM 'kink'.

I've been told Houseplants of Gor (http://www.rdrop.com/~wyvern/data/houseplants.html) (SFW) is quite an accurate description of the books and reading it again in this new light, well... I think the story speaks for itself.

factotum
2011-10-13, 07:11 AM
What I've heard about the series is that it gets progressively worse, so you might not get the proper "flavour" from just reading the first book...the later ones are the ones which are popularly supposed to be 90% slave girl scenes with a little bit of plot to fill in the gaps. No idea how true that is, not having read them personally.

dehro
2011-10-13, 11:21 AM
I've only tangentially heard of the Gor series and wasn't aware of the criticism regarding the BDSM 'kink'.

I've been told Houseplants of Gor (http://www.rdrop.com/~wyvern/data/houseplants.html) (SFW) is quite an accurate description of the books and reading it again in this new light, well... I think the story speaks for itself.

muahahahahahahaha
the houseplants of Gor tale is...well.. several kinds of awesome and does lampoon certain "bdsm literature" very well..


I've decided I'll keep reading them until I get to the stage where it becomes obvious pornographic fodder..which is not what I'm in the market for (and if I were so inclined, I would know to look elsewhere for better quality...and with less pretences of being "serious novels" or indeed Fantasy)..

In fact, I'm getting the feeling that most of the animosity towards the later books derives from the author being estabilished as a fantasy author and a serious philosopher, and taking a detour into seedy pornography, instead of sticking to the style and contents of the initial books..
Had he started out directly as a pornographic author and had he not tried to be taken too seriously, he probably wouldn't have received the almost unanimous criticism.
Hell, had he "evolved" from pornography into mainstream Fantasy, he probably would have received a lot of praise, however patronizing.
so far, the first book has a strong flavour of Conan with a bit of Sprague LeCamp writing style influence.