There are a number kinds of literature that are meant bring clarity to issues through exaggeration, humor, surreal imagery, or absurdity. Some of the books present here enter the realm of transgressive fiction. In transgressive fiction characters may be mentally ill, addicted, anti-social, nihilistic, sex addicts, violent, and criminals. The purpose of the works are to illustrate how outsiders exist, and function in society. The works that are considered transgressive fiction and overtly sexual or showing the use of drug use, have often been banned, by the country, or church.
The descriptions below are from the publishers. I offer them without commentary, since, while I've read many of these, I haven't read a number of them. I thank Alan Dean Foster for his suggestions and comments helping with some choices.
Nausea is the story of Antoine Roquentin, a French writer who is
horrified at his own existence. In impressionistic, diary form he
ruthlessly catalogues his every feeling and sensation about the world
and people around him. His thoughts culminate in a pervasive,
overpowering feeling of nausea which "spread at the bottom of the
viscous puddle, at the bottom of our time—the time of purple
suspenders and broken chair seats; it is made of wide, soft instants,
spreading at the edge, like an oil stain." Roquentin's efforts to come
to terms with his life, his philosophical and psychological struggles,
give Sartre the opportunity to dramatize trhe tents of his
A Dostoevskian psychological novel of ideas, Novel with Cocaine
explores the interaction between psychology, philosophy, and ideology in
its frank portrayal of an adolescent's cocaine addiction. The story
relates the formative experiences of Vadim at school and with women
before he turns to drug abuse and the philosophical reflections to which
it gives rise. Although Ageyev makes little explicit reference to the
Revolution, the novel's obsession with addictive forms of thinking finds
resonance in the historical background, in which "our inborn feelings
of humanity and justice" provoke "the cruelties and satanic
transgressions committed in its name.
William S. Burroughs
"Naked Lunch" is the unnerving tale of a monumental descent into the
hellish world of a narcotics addict as he travels from New York to
Tangiers, then into Interzone, a nightmarish modern urban wasteland in
which the forces of good and evil vie for control of the individual and
all of humanity.
Awe and exhiliration--along with heartbreak and mordant wit--abound in Lolita,
Nabokov's most famous and controversial novel, which tells the story of
the aging Humbert Humbert's obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion
for the nymphet Dolores Haze. Lolita is also the story of a hypercivilized European colliding with the cheerful barbarism of postwar America.
In Metamorphosis the story begins with a traveling salesman, Gregor Samsa, waking to
find himself trans¬formed (metamorphosed) into a large, monstrous
insect-like creature. The cause of Gregor's transformation is never
revealed, and Kafka himself never gave an explanation. The rest of
Kafka's novella deals with Gregor's attempts to adjust to his new
condition as he deals with being burdensome to his parents and sister,
who are repelled by the horrible, verminous creature Gregor has become.
High-Rise: When a class war erupts inside a luxurious apartment block, modern
elevators become violent battlegrounds and cocktail parties degenerate
into marauding attacks on “enemy” floors. In this visionary tale, human
society slips into violent reverse as once-peaceful residents, driven by
primal urges, re-create a world ruled by the laws of the jungle.
Crash: a "TV scientist" turned "nightmare angel of the highways,"
experiments with erotic atrocities among auto crash victims, each more
sinister than the last. James Ballard, his friend and fellow obsessive,
tells the story of this twisted visionary as he careens rapidly toward
his own demise in an internationally orchestrated car crash with
Elizabeth Taylor. A classic work of cutting-edge fiction, Crash
explores both the disturbing implications and horrific possibilities of
contemporary society's increasing dependence on technology as
intermediary in human relations.
In A Clockwork Orange a vicious fifteen-year-old droog is the central character of this 1963
classic. In Anthony Burgess's nightmare vision of the future, where the
criminals take over after dark, the story is told by the central
character, Alex, who talks in a brutal invented slang that brilliantly
renders his and his friends' social pathology. A Clockwork Orange
is a frightening fable about good and evil, and the meaning of human
freedom. When the state undertakes to reform Alex to "redeem" him, the
novel asks, "At what cost?"
Notes from Underground marks the dividing line between
nineteenth- and twentieth-century fiction, and between the visions of
self each century embodied. One of the most remarkable characters in
literature, the unnamed narrator is a former official who has defiantly
withdrawn into an underground existence. In full retreat from society,
he scrawls a passionate, obsessive, self-contradictory narrative that
serves as a devastating attack on social utopianism and an assertion of
man’s essentially irrational nature.
Meursault is an indifferent French Algerian ("a citizen of France
domiciled in North Africa, a man of the Mediterranean, an homme du midi
yet one who hardly partakes of the traditional Mediterranean
culture"),who, after attending his mother's funeral, apathetically kills
an Arab man whom he recognises in French Algiers. The story is divided
into two parts, presenting Meursault's first-person narrative view
before and after the murder, respectively.
Although Colossus is a collection, the main work here is that is considered, observes a space flight, that goes so fast it breaks time, so far as to go back in time. And the astronaut, time traveler is present to see himself being welcomed into a world where all he knows waits his arrival existence. Another story features a thought, if this world has a single cell, and we are part of a greater organization, how many more universes might there be. Also overall, is this really happening, or does the story demonstrate a warped version of solipsism?
Hubert Selby, Jr.
Last Exit to Brooklyn remains undiminished in its awesome power
and magnitude as the novel that first showed us the fierce, primal rage
seething in America’s cities. Selby brings out the dope addicts,
hoodlums, prostitutes, workers, and thieves brawling in the back alleys
Marquis de Sade
The 120 Days of Sodom, or the School of Libertinism is a novel by the
French writer and nobleman Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade.
Described as both pornographic and erotic, it was written in 1785. It
tells the story of four wealthy male libertines who resolve to
experience the ultimate sexual gratification in orgies. To do this, they
seal themselves away for four months in an inaccessible castle in
Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, France, with a harem of 46 victims, mostly
young male and female teenagers, and engage four female brothel keepers
to tell the stories of their lives and adventures. The women's
narratives form an inspiration for the sexual abuse and torture of the
victims, which gradually mounts in intensity and ends in their
slaughter. The work remained unpublished until the twentieth century. In
recent times it has been translated into many languages, including
English, Japanese and German. Due to its themes of sexual violence and
extreme cruelty, it has been banned by some governments.
An epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America's westward expansion, Blood Meridian brilliantly
subverts the conventions of the Western novel and the mythology of the
"wild west." Based on historical events that took place on the
Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s, it traces the fortunes of the Kid, a
fourteen-year-old Tennesseean who stumbles into the nightmarish world
where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is
Bret Easton Ellis
In American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis imaginatively explores the
incomprehensible depths of madness and captures the insanity of violence
in our time or any other. Patrick Bateman moves among the young and
trendy in 1980s Manhattan. Young, handsome, and well educated, Bateman
earns his fortune on Wall Street by day while spending his nights in
ways we cannot begin to fathom. Expressing his true self through torture
and murder, Bateman prefigures an apocalyptic horror that no society
could bear to confront.
The Iron Dream is an alternate history novel a fictional fantasy classic
entitled Lord of the Swastika, written by "Adolf Hitler". The first
part explains that the deceased author Hitler was a sci-fi writer and
that this novel was widely praised by the fandom. The third part is
critical review of the novel and its aftermath.
HENRY MILLER (1891-1980) was an American writer and painter
infamous for breaking with existing literary forms and developing a new
sort of "novel" that is a mixture of novel, autobiography, social
criticism, philosophical reflection, surrealist free association, and
mysticism, one that is distinctly always about and expressive of the
real-life Henry Miller and yet is also fictional.
Now hailed as an American classic, Tropic of Cancer, Henry
Miller’s masterpiece, was banned as obscene in this country for
twenty-seven years after its first publication in Paris in 1934. Only a
historic court ruling that changed American censorship standards,
ushering in a new era of freedom and frankness in modern literature,
permitted the publication of this first volume of Miller’s famed mixture
of memoir and fiction, which chronicles with unapologetic gusto the
bawdy adventures of a young expatriate writer, his friends, and the
characters they meet in Paris in the 1930s. Tropic of Cancer is now considered, as Norman Mailer said, “one of the ten or twenty great novels of our century.”
Banned in America for almost thirty years because of its explicit sexual content, Tropic of Capricorn is the companion volume to Miller’s Tropic of Cancer
chronicles his life in 1920s New York City. Famous for its frank
portrayal of life in Brooklyn’s ethnic neighborhoods and Miller’s
outrageous sexual exploits, The Tropic of Capricorn is now considered a cornerstone of modern literature.
Continuing the subversive self-revelation begun in Tropic of Cancer and
Tropic of Capricorn, Henry Miller takes readers along a mad,
free-associating journey from the damp grime of his Brooklyn youth to
the sun-splashed cafes and squalid flats of Paris. With incomparable
glee, Miller shifts effortlessly from Virgil to venereal disease, from
Rabelais to Roquefort. In this seductive technicolor swirl of Paris and
New York, he captures like no one else the blending of people and the
cities they inhabit.
This tender and nostalgic work dates from the same period as Tropic of
Cancer (1934). It is a celebration of love, art, and the Bohemian life
at a time when the world was simpler and slower, and Miller an obscure,
penniless young writer in Paris. Whether discussing the early days of
his long friendship with Alfred Perles or his escapades at the Club
Melody brothel, in Quiet Days in Clichy Miller describes a period that
would shape his entire life and oeuvre.