Banning & Suppressing Books: Part of Our (Not Very) Brave New World

New York Times: There’s More Than One Way To Ban a Book

[COMMENT:  I read Lolita some years ago. Creepy. Unsettling. Perverse, but hardly prurient. Not for kids; but ban it? Nope.

I never read Darwin, but if anyone still doubts the nub of his argument, then don’t worry about the latest COVID variants; God created each of them specially for YOU. Banning Darwin’s book, stupid; ignoring it, stupider.

I also read Maya Angelou’s Gather Together in My Name; powerful. I can see why some don’t like it: earthy, unvarnished, but for me, a fine tale of survival.

I expect to skip Mike Pence’s tome; though you never know. . . .]

July 24, 2022

PAUL: In the 1950s, Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita” was banned in France, Britain and Argentina, but not in the United States, where its publisher, Walter Minton, released the book after multiple American publishing houses rejected it.

Minton is part of a noble tradition. Over the years, American publishers have fought back against efforts to repress a wide range of works — from Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species to Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Just last year, Simon & Schuster defended its book deal with former Vice President Mike Pence, despite a petition signed by more than 200 Simon & Schuster employees and other book professionals demanding that the publishing house cancel the deal. The publisher, Dana Canedy, and chief executive, Jonathan Karp, held firm.

I might read Pence’s book, if it comes clean about this Bernie meme.

The American publishing industry has long prided itself on publishing ideas and narratives that are worthy of our engagement, even if some people might consider them unsavory or dangerous, and for standing its ground on freedom of expression.

But that ground is getting shaky. Though the publishing industry would never condone book banning, a subtler form of repression is taking place in the literary world, restricting intellectual and artistic expression from behind closed doors, and often defending these restrictions with thoughtful-sounding rationales. As many top editors and publishing executives admit off the record, a real strain of self-censorship has emerged that many otherwise liberal-minded editors, agents and authors feel compelled to take part in.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.