October 2, 2011

Content Warning: Literary Nipple!

Blogtoberfest continues! Willkommen!

If you've been following my Sitzbook book-a-week project, you may have noticed that there was a nipple on the cover of one of the books. And it wasn't just any old disembodied nipple floating in space (as nipples are apt to do, I'm told). No, my friends, it was a female nipple, on a female breast! For shame! I would normally just have made a short joke or comment about this, but then I started over-analyzing things, and eventually a blog post became inevitable. 

Before we go any further, and so we're all on the same page, here's the picture of the book cover in question, from the Spanish-language version of Isabel Allende's Inés del Alma Mía ("Inés of My Soul"):

As you can see, the picture on the cover is old-looking; in fact the credit says it's called Desnudo/"Nude" and it's an 1890 photo attributed to Leopold Reutlinger, whose name sounds suspiciously German (the plot thickens: Germans just love nipples on book covers, billboards, and bus stop ads!). But what's it doing on the cover of a historical novel about Inés Suarez, a Spanish woman who helped found the nation of Chile through the conquering and suppression of its native tribes?

I know that this book cover nipple isn't just an isolated phenomenon, since at one point we had three Latin American-published books in our house that had nipples on their covers (The other two were Paulo Coelho's La Bruja de Portobello and Gustavo Bolívar Moreno's Sin Tetas No Hay Paraíso). I think that if these books were sold in the U.S., someone would strategically put a "15% off!" sticker over the nipples in question. Either that, or else there'd be a controversy called "Nipplegate* 2011."

Let me make one thing clear: I think it's fine that there's a nipple on the cover of this book. I don't care. In fact, I think that most books should probably have nipples on their covers, just in case (except cookbooks... that would be weird). But I have noticed that the nipple aspect makes this book more interesting. For example, Angela read the book after I did, and so did our friend Adriana. Both seemed embarrassed to be reading such a tit-ilating book in public, but they weren't able to explain why exactly they felt that way.

So I guess this leads me to a series of questions: 

1. Did you know the German word for "nipple" is Brustwarze? Did you know that literally translated, that means "Breast-wart"? Isn't that wonderful?

2. Is a cover like this "indecent" or even simply "problematic"? Do people still get offended by an exposed nipple or breast these days? If so, do such people fan themselves, swoon, and then experience fainting spells when they see nipples?

3. If nipples aren't problematic or indecent, is it because this is a novel? Does that have anything to do with it? What if it were an advertisement for margarine? 

4. Would a book like this be sold out in the open in the U.S. and if so, would anyone comment about it (besides me, of course)?

5. How is it that a proportionally higher number of "nipply" books seem to be published and sold in Latin America, a region that at least to me seems to be more prudish and prohibitive than the U.S. when it comes to general public nudity?

6. Is this non-controversial because it depicts breasts and nipples, and not the "junk" of one's nether-regions? 

7. If this is OK, then why aren't there topless beaches in Latin America? 

8. Is all of this just a ploy to try to trick people into reading?

Please answer the questions in complete sentences, using a number 2 pencil, on a separate sheet of college-ruled, loose-leaf paper. You have 30 minutes. Please begin.

Oh, and by the way, the book was really good. As the Brits might say, "It's the tits!"

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more Blogtoberfest fun! 

*The only thing that should be called "nipplegate" is a door that leads to actual nipples, like the entrance to a strip club.

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook


Annie K said...

"nipply books". omg. i am a 12 year-old boy apparently because this whole thing made me laugh heartily.

Sitzman said...

Glad to hear! Thanks for the comment!

Lucy said...

I suspect its only a hung-up puritanical USAmerican thing, to be concerned about nipples. sad really. no one else even notices.

what do you mean why aren't there topless beaches? there ARE, all the beaches are FULL of nipples, i'm surprised you haven't noticed, you great puritan, you.

Sitzman said...

Alright, Lucy, you've forced me to say it:

"We're all Americans... ALL."


Anonymous said...

The point is, this pictures is an extract of a series taken in a parisian brothel one hundred years ago or so. The book "Ines del alma mia" is the story of Ines Suarez who was the lover of the Spanish conqueror of Chili Pedro de Valdivia, in the years 1540. She sure was a key person in the success of Valdivia, and she successfully defended Santiago against an attack of Mapuche indians. Sort of a Chilean Joan of Arc.
Can you see the relation with the cover picture? Me not. To hell with the marketing boys.

Sitzman said...

Haha, thanks for the comment, Robert! I didn't see the connection, either.