Why Joyce Carol Oates is Just the Worst

She’s not, not really. She’s just a prolific author who is insufferable on Twitter. But then, aren’t we all?

This is her take on Agatha Christie novels being Bowdlerized by the rigid red pens of today’s Sensitivity Readers. You see, it does not matter if her work is ideologically transformed, because she’s not a good enough writer for it to matter. Because Joyce Carol Oates says so.

Expurgation of literature is an old tradition. In the early 19th Century, a chap named Thomas Bowdler chopped up Shakespeare’s plays to remove anything he considered inappropriate for women and children. Lady Chatterly’s Lover wasn’t sold in it’s full unexpurgated text until 1960. There have always been people who want to sand the rough edges off of literature and make it conform to their vision of the Good. Religious as well as secular institutions do this.

Which is why Roald Dahl books are being Bowdlerized. And James Bond novels, and Fahrenheit 451, which is itself a warning against such practices. Joyce Carol Oates is fine with this, because Joyce Carol Oates is a Boomer Progressive who unironically retweets bland Joe Biden statements. She hates Republicans as she hates Hell, all Montagues, and thee, and since it’s mostly right-wingers who object to books being expurgated by Sensitivity Readers, it must be Good, Actually.

See? It’s fine. Everything’s fine. They’re going to change your books after you’re dead into something you don’t want and didn’t intend because they know better than you what’s harmful and what is not. They’re just words, it doesn’t matter.


You must read Serious Works of Literature as they Are, and Fie upon ye for a Coward if your eyes avert from Beowulf! We may slash Agatha Christie, or Roald Dahl, or Ian Fleming, because they wrote Un-Serious Literature that Red-State Swine might read and enjoy. Roald Dahl is Not Sacrosanct, but Joyce Carol Oates is. She has Pulitzers and everything.

The through line is thus nothing more than an argument over what is Worthy and what is Not. The Approved Author will always applaud the Publishing & Academia Clerisy enforcing Standards, because those Standards are what make them Approved. At a sufficient enough stage of degeneration, all statements of truth become statements of power.

So no, Joyce Carol Oates is not the Worst. She’s just a handy servant of Power.


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