18 January 2012

Two Paths

Oh the influence of bad literature. I love the implication that ones reading choices when young will determine your future. I found another version of this illustration at the Library of Congress' website with different illustrations and additional text including the information that the bad literature she is reading at 13 is "Sapho,  a vile novel that was suppressed several years ago in New York." I believe the reference is to the 1884 novel by Alphonse Daudet that tells the story of a girl from the slums of Paris who grows up to become a famed courtesan.

The novel was later adapted into a play that holds the distinction of being the first play of the new century (it opened on Broadway on February 5, 1900) to be shut down by the police. Arrests were made including that of the play's leading lady, British actress Olga Nethersole, who was charged with "offending public decency." She and the others were later acquitted, and the play reopened (the next day) to a packed house.

So, bad literature or study and obedience? Which path would you choose?

Sapho poster from the Library of Congress.

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