Banned Books Week: The Opus Dei Rating System
The most fascinating bit of the list of Opus Dei-rated books that Vault linked yesterday in the comments to a previous post is, to me, the rating system.
That goes as follows…
And of course when you find such a list, the first thing is, you go and check if your favorite books are in there…
Level six – you need permission by the Prelate to read includes Angela Carter’s The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman, that I discovered in Moorcock & Cawthorn’s Fantasy: The 100 Best Books, and Moorcock gets a 6, too, for The Queen of Swords (really?) and, more understandably perhaps, for Behold the Man.
Heinlein’s The Number of the Beast (probably just for the title) is also featured here.
(maybe I should include Amazon buying links, just for the sake of being contrarian).
Oh, and Carl Sagan’s Cosmos is at this level too, and you can’t read it. No, really really you can’t. And you can’t read Sagan and Druyan’s Shadow of Forgotten Ancestors either.
It’s like, I dunno, these guys have something against science.
We get a five for Clarke’s The Fountains of Paradise (why?), together with John Hedgecoe’s fundamental Photographer’s Handbook (are there naked ladies in here? I’ll have to check my copy). And Leiber’s The Knight and Knave of Swords, that is the only Leiber book in the collection. Raymond Chandler’s The Little Sister also gets a five.
Stephen Jay Gould also gets a 5 for The Panda’s Thumb and Ever Since Darwin (but his Wonderful Life gets only a 3).
Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene is also featured as a Level Five read, same as practically all of Isaac Asimov’s popular science and non-fiction books, including a history of Constantinople.
These are “books that are not possible to read”.
And that sucks, if you have just bought yourself a new camera.
Italo Calvino gets level 4 for The Baron in the Trees and The Nonexistent Knight, that are usually read by mid-graders hereabouts. The same level four goes to Ramsey Campbell’s The Doll Who Ate its Mother and Karel Capek’s R.U.R. and David Brin’s Uplift books and Earth. Go figure.
Anyway, if you really need to, you can read them, but first get permission from your spiritual director.
Most of H.P. Lovecraft’s work falls between 3 and 4, like most of Virginia Woolf, which I find strangely appropriate. Roald Dahl’s Switch Bitch is also in this strange intermediate state – books that can have inconvenient scenes. Same as a lot of Isaac Asimov’s catalogue.
Seek permission anyway.
Strangely enough, we find Darwin’s On the Origin of Species at level 3.
His grandfather’s Erasmus Zoonomia, or the laws of organic life gets a full 6, and Charlie boy’s own The Descent of Man gets a 5.
But the Origin is OK, apparently. If your spiritual guide allows it, of course.
And curiously enough Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun gets listed at 2 or 3 – the guys probably didn’t get that it’s actually a science-fictional account of the second coming of Christ .
Most of Len Deighton’s thrillers also get a 2-3 listing, just like Leslie Charteris The Saint – this is, quite clearly, the thrillers’ level.
But you can find also David Pringle’s Science Fiction: the 100 Best Novels here.
But the worst let down is, the Opus Dei library holds no Robert E Howard, no Leigh Brackett, no C.J. Cherryh, no Tanith Lee and no Roger Zelazny books.
Must try harder, like they said back in school.