Sunday, January 01, 2017


Dangers of Reading Novels and Chaucer's Poems

J.H. Kellogg (1852-1943), Plain Facts for Old and Young (Burlington: Segner & Condit, 1881), pp. 486-487:
The taste for novel-reading is like that for liquor or opium. It is never satiated. It grows with gratification. A confirmed novel-reader is almost as difficult to reform as a confirmed inebriate or opium-eater. The influence upon the mind is most damaging and pernicious. It not only destroys the love for solid, useful reading, but excites the emotions, and in many cases keeps the passions in a perfect fever of excitement. The confessions of young women who were to all appearance the most circumspect in every particular, and whom no one mistrusted to be capable of vile thoughts, have convinced us that this evil is more prevalent than many, even of those who are quite well informed, would be willing to admit.

By reading of this kind, many are led to resort to self-abuse for the gratification of passions which over-stimulation has made almost uncontrollable. Some have thus been induced to sin who had never been injured by other influences, but discovered the fatal secret themselves. Mothers cannot be too careful of the character of the books which their daughters read. Every book, magazine, and paper should be carefully scrutinized, unless its character is already well known, before it is allowed to be read. In our opinion, some of the literature which passes as standard, which is often found on parlor center-tables and in family and school libraries, such as Chaucer's poems, and other writings of a kindred character, is unfit for perusal by inexperienced and unsophisticated young ladies. Some of this literature is actually too vile for any one to read, and if written to-day by any poet of note would cause his works to be committed to the stove and the rag-bag in spite of his reputation.

Alexander Mark Rossi (1840-1916), Forbidden Books

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