Why do we continue to read politically incorrect novels? This seminar will analyze a selection of controversial masterpieces of European modern fiction, from Spain to Austria, that were deemed offensive. Some of them touch on issues that are still important to us, like race and ethnicity, while others touched on issues such as religion and national identity that were sensitive at the time but are less so today. We will read excerpts from Plato to Marx on the function literature plays in society. Is literature inherently evil, as Bataille suggested?