Fifty Shades of Embarrassment for the English Language

August 7th, 2012By Category: Arts & Entertainment

Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James

Living in Japan often means that I’m last to hear of anything new. Movies don’t come out till months after their U.S release dates here, that’s if they even make it at all. So when I recently heard about an up and coming book in the literary world, I was about 10 weeks out of the loop.

I am of course talking about E.L James’ Fifty Shades of Grey. Reading about this book online I hear that it’s a phenomenal, best-selling, record-breaking novel that EVERYBODY is talking about.

However not all that ‘talk’ is positive.

Nothing divides the literary world more than a best seller. When something is actually selling in record amounts, with people willingly spending their hard-earned cash to buy it, then most scholars and literary minds will lash out, saying everything from  ’it’s not well written’ to ‘it lacks originality’. There is no end to the insults that they can think up.

Take for example The Da Vinci Code, Harry Potter and Twilight. All best sellers and all ruthlessly shamed by the literary world. Simple prose, unimaginative storytelling.. you name it, they’ve said it.

However, what I think the literary world doesn’t account for is how much weight an idea can carry. Who cares if authors aren’t writing with correct prose or in a poetic manner, they’ve come up with an idea that intrigues millions and millions of people and through that, they have touched the world somehow.

Perhaps the fact that it is written more simply makes it easier for the masses to swallow – but that’s a whole different argument left best for another day.

However, for all it’s record-breaking sales and instant popularity, I cannot defend Fifty Shades.

I did actually read the first book. I’m not one of those people who will dismiss novels simply because the whole world is besotted. I prefer to make up my own opinions.

This time, however, I think perhaps my own opinions are very similar to others I’ve read online. The book is utter rubbish, not because of its horrible writing, awful characters and lack of plot (but they certainly contribute), but because it’s more than anything, just a rip off of someone else’s idea – with a bit of raunchy sex thrown in.

The book itself started as a fan fiction piece of Twilight. Huh? Since when is it okay to just change the names of a few characters and say that it’s your own book? It’s not. Ever. James has seriously exploited what it means to be an author, everything down from the description of Ana’s character to the book’s setting and plot have shadow tones of Meyer’s much-loved series. The only difference? Some steamy sex scenes that are too frequent for there to be any semblance of plot.

So, if your into your Mills and Boon then by all means, this book is for you. However, If you value your sanity I’d recommend looking in a different section of the book store.

What a travesty. Here’s to hoping it’s never translated into Japanese.

Fifty Shades Trilogy by E. L. James

Photos by: SS Readers Corner and Perla0917 via Flickr Creative Commons

Author of this article

Emma Perry

Emma is a kindergarten teacher and freelance writer living in Osaka, Japan. Originally from Sydney, Australia, she enjoys travelling (mostly to warm places), meeting awesome people, watching Rugby and riding roller coasters. You can read more of her work at

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