Friday, September 30, 2011

The Diaries of Adam and Eve

As an avid reader and a book blogger, I should have been more on top of the fact that this week has been designated as Banned Books Week, an annual event sponsored by the American Library Association celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. My personal thoughts on banned books are simple: I believe that, while not all reading material is appropriate for everyone, it should be up to individuals to decide what is appropriate for them (and their children) to read. Censorship - which amounts to a deprivation of information based on a particular person's or group's own moral agenda - is wrong, pure and simple. Let the people have access to all information, all opinions, all accounts, and let them decide for themselves what is worthy, what is true, and what has value.

I only recently became aware of Eve's Diary, a soliloquy written by Mark Twain very early in the twentieth century. Apparently, Eve's Diary was banned from a Massachusetts library for over 100 years because of the illustrations, which depict Eve au naturale. The illustrations are extremely tame and mild by today's standards (hamburger joint ads are far more racy), but throughout the 1900s they were considered pornographic.

Eve's Diary, originally published as its own volume, is the second part of the combined volumes of The Diaries of Adam and Eve. This is Mark Twain's "translation from the originals" of the first two human beings' diaries, and they are a hoot! Witty and utterly charming, Adam is a rather grumpy man who finds himself both irritated and perplexed by "the new Creature" (Eve) who talks incessantly, has grand ideas about everything, and is prone to "shedding water from the holes she looks out of." Eventually Eve "catches" a baby, but Adam, having never seen a baby before, can make neither heads nor tales of it, first convinced it is some type of fish, then a kangaroo, then a bear. Eve's diary reveals her to be an emotional, passionate lover of beauty and animals, and a somewhat frivolous and childish girl-woman who can't understand why Adam keeps trying to get away from her.

I loved this book. Really enjoyable, and a very quick, easy read.

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