If you ever wonder how much the world has changed, consider the following scene from Louisa May Alcott’s A Rose in Bloom. (1876).
Dr. Alec discovers his 20 year-old niece, Rose reading a French novel and asks her to hand it over. Rose is wistful at the interruption “for she had reached the heart of the romance and found it wonderfully fascinating”.
Dr. Alec admonishes her “Finish it if you choose: only remember, my girl, that one may read at forty what is unsafe at twenty, and that we can never be too careful what food we give that precious yet perilous thing called imagination.”
July marks another birthday for me and I’m amused that I’m of the age I can “safely” read what is unsafe at twenty. The good doctor even closes the book quickly “to keep the objectable beings from escaping”.
I can only imagine the dear uncle’s reaction had he discovered Rose reading Fifty Shades of Gray.