Shop H.E. Bates Online
ID
cx170
Title
"Readers, Grow Up!”
Genre
Essay
Page Count
1
Word Count
500
Publication Year
1938
Document Types
Full-text Online
Eads, Additions to
Topics
Sex

Bates responds to ‘abusive letters’ about the Readers’ Union publication of Country Tales in which readers described the treatment of sex as ‘filthy muck’ and ‘disgusting.’

He notes that the letters elevate him into the distinguished company of other authors vilified for their realistic depiction of sex, such as Chekhov, D.H. Lawrence, Joyce, Zola, Flaubert, Tolstoy, and the Brontes. He notes also that of the book’s thirty stories, twenty have nothing to do with the topic of sex. ‘In most civilized countries...you may say anything you like about the situation arising from the natural physical act of human intercourse (i.e. of sex) except one thing. You may be funny about it, sneer at it, cheapen it, drag it in muck, parade it in music-halls, splash it on the pages of newspapers, turn it, in short, into a filthy racket of scandal, bawdy, and cheap-joke ugliness—but you must not on any account treat it seriously.’

Accompanying Bates's essay is a selection of letters by readers, both negative and positive, about the book.

In [name of journal, 1938, p. 7, attached].


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