Nabokov, Marquez 'paedophile link' worries Russian church

28th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

A senior figure in the Russian Orthodox Church on Monday said that the best known works by Vladimir Nabokov and Gabriel Garcia Marquez should be examined to see if they justify paedophilia.

The comments by Vsevolod Chaplin, the church's top cleric for public affairs, provoked an immediate wave of concern amongst cultural leaders who expressed fear his calls could be implemented and taken to a legal level.

Chaplin said that the content of "Lolitia" by Nabokov and "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Marquez should be reviewed as he was concerned about the effect they had on the moral health of society.

"We need to discuss to what extent these works justify paedophilia," Chaplin told the Moscow Echo radio station in an interview. "The fact is that even the West used to have a very negative attitude towards them but then it changed."

"The time has come for a moral revolution, a counter-revolution, if you like," Chaplin said.

Both books are known for their frank treatment of sex involving young people.

"Lolita" examines the obsession of middle-aged businessman Humbert Humbert with a 12-year old girl while "One Hundred Years of Solitude" wraps incest and young sex into its magical-realist world.

"Let's go and check then all literature from Homer to the great Russian classics for signs of violence, paedophilia and other unacceptable things," Nikolai Svanidze, a writer who is a member of Russia's public oversight body the public chamber, said sarcastically, according to the Interfax news agency.

Boris Akunin, the historical detective novelist who has won considerable fame abroad, told Moscow Echo that the church should undertake "not to interfere in secular and literary matters."

Meanwhile, President Dmitry Medvedev's international cultural envoy Mikhail Shvidkoi told Interfax that if any practical moves towards a review followed Chaplin's remarks "it would be damaging at the highest level for the Russia."

The Russian Orthodox Church has enjoyed a boom in support since the collapse of the Soviet Union but its critics say it wields its considerable power too actively to influence people's private lives.

In a separate interview with Interfax, Chaplin described the two classic works as full of "depraved passion which makes people unhappy."

© 2011 AFP

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