The Victorians were particular about the unmentionable remaining unmentioned. Like their beloved queen, they were ‘not amused’ by explicit descriptions of body functions, sex or the printed uttering of cuss words. Authors used euphemism and innuendo and skirted with ‘bold’ description to titillate the imagination. And they succeeded!
Today’s authors prefer to be more explicit. They let it all hang out, leaving nothing whatsoever to the imagination and relying more on the gut reaction. For me, the journey in literature has been from the classic coy to the current crass. For crass I find it to be. I hear people tell me not to be a prude, that there is honesty and openness in such writing, that I should understand the need to scratch the itch. Surely, most of what I read has been a part of personal experience? Yes, it is. But I do not need such experiences to be highlighted in fluorescent technicolour. There is nothing cathartic in knowing about another’s similar embarrassments or urges. It seems derisively voyeuristic.
This brings us to the age old debate about creative liberty and integrity. What seemed outré a hundred years ago, is today pathetically innocuous. My prohibited ‘damn’ (go wash your mouth with soap!) has been replaced with the ubiquitous F word (get with it man, everyone uses it). Art should feel no boundaries. I agree. Let every artist, writer, composer do what he loves best: what moves him and what inspires him will also inspire others with like vision and taste. My criterion for inclusion or exclusion of explicit content is simply this: Is it necessary? If not, then why?
As for my personal taste, I prefer the finely tuned description, the well crafted plot, the lilt of the language, the glorious use of tint and hue, light and shade and, most of all, the opportunity to let my imagination do its own thing and go wild.
P.S. To make a point, 'hornswoggle' is so much more evocative than 'load of c--p'. Thanks, Capt. Craddock (or is it Haddock?)