Patron of the Week: Mrs. I’m-Old-Enough-To-Read-Desire-Under-The-Elms-Now

Graphic for button from New Media Consortium on Flickr

For those of you expecting this week’s Sunday Salon, I’m cheating and combining my Patron of the Week post with The Sunday Salon.

This week’s Patron of the Week comes from the Land of Cotton, Look Away, Look Away, Look Away, with the emphasis on the “Look Away” and not on the cotton, because the setting actually is in New England.

Please say hello to Mrs. I’m-Old-Enough-To-Desire-Under-The-Elms-Now.

After she put the book down on the counter, she proceeded to tell her story about why she was getting this particular book, the American Library Edition of Eugene O’Neill: Complete Plays 1920-1931:

“When I was in high school, we had this teacher who told us ‘Desire under the Elms’ was too adult for our tastes. I’ve always wanted to read it and now at the age of 62, I’m finally getting to it.”

1958 publication of the play, issued to tie-in...

Image via Wikipedia

She said she thought she was old enough now to handle the adult themes presented in the play, even though she admitted she wasn’t thrilled about it being a play. She said she didn’t like to read plays.

What prompted her to pick up the book, she said, was that some of her classmates were praising the teacher on a Facebook page set up for an upcoming reunion, on how great a teacher he was, and all she could remember was that he didn’t want them to read this one particular play.

This brings me to today’s questions for you: Has there ever been a book or even series of books that a teacher or parent told you not to read because you wouldn’t be able to “handle” it (them) at the time or because that person thought it was (they were) too immoral or too “evil” for you? For me, it wasn’t a book but an author: Emanuel Swedenborg, that I’ve written about previously.

If you would like to read Desire Under The Elms for yourself, you can do so here thanks to Project Gutenberg in Australia. One of its more recent revivals was done in 2009 on Broadway with Brian Dennehy in one of the leading roles.

For today’s moment of Zen, I’ll leave you with the trailer for the 1958 film version of Desire Under The Elms with Anthony Perkins in a romantic role (really? yes, really):

As for what I’m reading today, I’ll be finishing up Lemons Never Lie by Richard Stark (a pseudonym for Donald E. Westlake) this morning and then…and then…? I don’t know yet. We’ll see. I’ll let you know on Wednesday what I decided to pick up next.

17 responses to “Patron of the Week: Mrs. I’m-Old-Enough-To-Read-Desire-Under-The-Elms-Now

  1. Let me clarify that this is for younger kids… when their parent comes up to me at the reference desk with them. So, if a fifth grader and their parent come up to me at the ref desk and ask me about the book “Forever,” by Judy Blume… I would let them know the themes explored in the book…

    I do not think we have a policy regarding that AT ALL.

  2. Hi, Joanna! I work in a public library, and the juvenile patrons must be eighteen to check out video games and DVDs. I always ask the parent with them come up to the reference desk with a juvenile if they mind whether or not their child reads “blah, blah, blah,” because it contains “blah, blah, blah…” It depends on the kid whether or not they are ready for the type of subjects presented… They are not my child; I do not know them. Mostly, though, the parent will say that they can read it. This makes me happy! I just hope the parent is there to discuss it with them! 🙂

    • Interesting you should mention that…at our library, our director doesn’t want us to talk to the parents about what their children are reading, because the card is for the minor and not the parent. It would break confidentiality. If the parent doesn’t want them to read x, y or z, then the parent shouldn’t let their children have their own card. That’s the policy at our library. At our library, patrons must be 17 to check out DVDs (we don’t have video games, a small hometown library and don’t have the budget for them).

  3. I can still rememberwhen I was old enough to get a ‘regular’ library card of my own. I was 9, and my mom had to choose whether I could only select books from the children’s section or if I had access to the entire library. Needless to say, she let me have full access. The power was exhilirating! :)Do public libraries still have restrictions like that? Also, my kids had ‘reading time’ every day in JrHigh and High School. They were allowed to bring in their own books to read, but I had to write one of the boys a note saying that he had my permission to read Dante’s Inferno. He was in the 7th grade. Interesting topic!

  4. OK, I just added Desire Under the Elms to my Netflix Queue, which of course brought up more suggestions that I then also added to my Queue. I wish I could stop time for about 1 year and catch up on my TBW list.

  5. “Has there ever been a book or even series of books that a teacher or parent told you not to read because you wouldn’t be able to “handle” it (them) at the time or because that person thought it was (they were) too immoral or too “evil” for you?”



  6. I read Peyton Place when I was about 10. By the time I went to high school I had read most of the books my parents had. Nobody ever told me not to read anything. In high school, we were given a list of books that were required reading, but outside of that, we were pretty much on our own.

  7. My parents had no idea what I was reading when I was a kid! I read Anais Nin and Henry Miller as a freshman in high school. Read all the James Bond books when I was in 6th grade I think. They had no clue. 🙂

  8. I thankfully didn’t ever have that happen, but my grandmother did manage to find some of the books that I was reading and sniffed then said to my mom, “You’re letting her read these?” all while looking down her nose. I don’t remember what the books were, but I do remember that I was bored to tears by them, so they probably were too old for me at the time.

  9. I had the librarian at the school where I taught warn me against reading the Beverly Cleary books to my second graders, telling me the vocabulary was too far above their heads! (She was a wonderful librarian, except for this brief lapse.)
    Here’s my Sunday Salon for this week: Friendship Bread—Starter for a Real Book Club in My Town And only three days are left to sign up for the Readerbuzz August Giveaway!

  10. Ah, yes, there were a couple books like that. Peyton Place (when I was in high school), and Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

    Being told that the books weren’t appropriate only guaranteed that I would grab the books right away! I have always followed my own rules. LOL


  11. Almost like how people got all upset that Susan Patron used “scrotum” in her book “The Higher Power of Lucky.” I would rather have my child use the word “scrotum” than the alternatives… Wouldn’t you?!

  12. Great, great book! Sad, though… child in and out of foster care. When I was in library school, I did a whole lesson on how the imagination in children seems to be more stifled than it once was. And as a librarian now, I hear parents say to me while I am working reference: “no, we do not read “Harry Potter” books… hmpf. WHY NOT?! Do you not realize it is not all about the wizardry?!

  13. HAHAHAHA! I guess I would consider myself lucky that I was never denied the right to read anything. I remember in fourth grade the teacher read the class “The Great Gilly Hopkins,” and it will always be one of those books I will cherish.