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Hating censorship...

Bid to ban man hating book in France inevitably leads to increased sales


Link Here12th September 2020
Sales of a French feminist book entitled I Hate Men have gone through the roof after a government official tried to have the work banned for inciting gender hatred.

Pauline Harmange's essay Moi les hommes, je les déteste explores whether women have good reason to hate men, arguing that this type of anger could actually be a joyful and liberating path, if it is allowed to be expressed.

While the work was expected to generate modest sales of a few hundred copies, its first three print runs were quickly snapped up after an adviser to France's gender equality ministry threatened the small publishing house Monstrograph with legal action if it didn't remove the offending material from shelves.

Presumably in response to the publicity, the ministry has now distanced itself from the matter, saying that the adviser was speaking in a personal capacity.

The book's publisher responded:

This book is not at all an incitement to hatred ... The title is provocative, but the subject matter is measured. It's an invitation not to force oneself to date or deal with men. At no time does the author incite violence.

 

 

Diary: Banned Books Week...

27th September to 3rd October


Link Here5th September 2020

Banned Books Week (September 27 - October 3, 2020) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. It brings together the entire book community 204 librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types 204 in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted for removal or restriction in libraries and schools.

 

 

Censorship Ideology...

Best selling economics book won't be sold in China after the author refused to implement censor cuts


Link Here31st August 2020
Full story: Book Censorship in China...Offical book censors and self censorship
A best selling economics book by the French economist Thomas Piketty appears unlikely to be sold in mainland China after he refused requests to censor it.

The Chinese president, Xi Jinping, has expressed admiration for Piketty's work, but Capital and Ideology , which was published last year, has not made it to the mainland China market due to sections on inequality in the country.

Piketty told the Guardian the Chinese publisher Citic Press had sent his French publisher a list of 10 pages of requested cuts in June from the French edition of the book, and a further list in August related to the English edition. He said:

I refused these conditions and told them that I would only accept a translation with no cut of any sort. They basically wanted to cut almost all parts referring to contemporary China, and in particular to inequality and opacity in China.

The passages highlighted by the Chinese publishers as requiring censorship  include one referring to the post-communism societies of regions including China becoming hypercapitalism's staunchest allies, as a direct consequence of the disasters of Stalinism and Maoism. Other sections reference the opacity of Chinese income and wealth data, capital flight and corruption.

 

 

Updated: A new chapter in book censorship...

Kuwait ends pre-publication book vetting by censors


Link Here26th August 2020
The Kuwait News Agency reports that the country's parliament approved an amendment to publishing censorship laws on August 19 that removes the need for regulatory approval for books before they enter the Kuwaiti market.

With the amendment now in place, book importers and international publishers just have to provide book titles and author lists to the Ministry of Information, with the understanding that they bear legal responsibility if a book's subject matter contravenes Kuwaiti law.

Legal action against a particular book will now only be triggered by an official complaint from the public. Furthermore, a book ban can only be given by the courts, as opposed to the Ministry of Information.

The move has been hailed by Kuwaiti writers, and international and regional literary bodies.

Update: 5000 censored books

26th August 2020. See article from indianexpress.com

And just to emphasise the significance of the change, the Guardian reports that the Kuwait book censors had banned 5000 books in the 7 years prior to this change. These banned books included One Hundred Years of Solitude and Hunchback of Notre Dame .

 

 

Offsite Article: Popular Children's Books Purged as 'Inappropriate'...


Link Here13th August 2020
Full story: Book Censorship in China...Offical book censors and self censorship
Across China, bestsellers are being removed from shelves as part of the campaign against wrong think children's books

See article from bitterwinter.org

 

 

Dangerous drawings...

Australian book censors ban manga from the No Game, No Life series


Link Here12th August 2020
Full story: Book Censorship in Australia...Australian books banned by censors
the Australian Censorship Board has banned 2 books from the No Game, No Life series of novels to the surprise of readers.

The national censor board has made it illegal to import or sell volumes one, two, and nine of No Game, No Life. This is because the novels were said to violate a classification clause concerning the depiction of minors. The censors explained:

The publication is classified RC in accordance with the National Classification Code, Publications Table, 1. (b) as publications that describe or depict in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult, a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 (whether the person is engaged in sexual activity or not).

Australia's decision to come down on No Game, No Life came after several politicians called for the classification board to re-examine manga and light novels.

 

 

Offsite Article: Who's classifying books and publications?...


Link Here9th August 2020
High Impact Classification does a survey of international book censors

See article from highimpactclassification.wordpress.com

 

 

Trials of Portnoy's Complaint...

When Penguin Australia fought for literature and liberty


Link Here3rd August 2020

One grey morning in October 1970, in a crowded, tizzy-pink courtroom on the corner of Melbourne's Russell and La Trobe Streets, crown prosecutor Leonard Flanagan began denouncing a novel in terms that were strident and ringing.

When taken as a whole, it is lewd, he declared. As to a large part of it, it is absolutely disgusting both in the sexual and other sense; and the content of the book as a whole offends against the ordinary standards of the average person in the community today -- the ordinary, average person's standard of decency. Scribe

The object of Flanagan's ire that day was the Penguin Books Australia edition of Portnoy's Complaint . Frank, funny, and profane, Philip Roth's novel -- about a young man torn between the duties of his Jewish heritage and the autonomy of his sexual desires -- had been a sensation the world over when it was published in February 1969.

Greeted with sweeping critical acclaim, it was advertised as the funniest novel ever written about sex and called the autobiography of America in the Village Voice. In the United States, it sold more than 400,000 copies in hardcover in a single year -- more, even, than Mario Puzo's The Godfather -- and in the United Kingdom it was published to equal fervour and acclaim.

But in Australia, Portnoy's Complaint had been banned.

Politicians, bureaucrats, police, and judges had for years worked to keep Australia free of the moral contamination of impure literature. Under a system of censorship that pre-dated federation, works that might damage the morals of the Australian public were banned, seized, and burned. Bookstores were raided. Publishers were policed and fined. Writers had been charged, fined and even jailed.

Seminal novels and political tracts from overseas had been kept out of the country. Where objectionable works emerged from Australian writers, they were rooted out like weeds. Under the censorship system, Boccacio's Decameron had been banned. Nabokov's Lolita had been banned. Joyce's Ulysses had been banned. Even James Bond had been banned.

There had been opposition to this censorship for years, though it had become especially notable in the past decade. Criticism of the bans on J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye and Norman Lindsay's Redheap had prompted an almost complete revision of the banned list in 1958.

The repeated prosecutions of the Oz magazine team in 1963 and 1964 had attracted enormous attention and controversy.

Outcry over the bans on Mary McCarthy's The Group and D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover had been loud and pronounced, and three intrepid Sydney activists had exposed the federal government to ridicule when they published a domestic edition of The Trial of Lady Chatterley , an edited transcript of the failed court proceedings against Penguin Books UK for the publication of Lady Chatterley's Lover in Britain in 1960.

Penguin Books Australia had been prompted to join the fight against censorship by the three idealistic and ambitious men at its helm: managing director John Michie, finance director Peter Froelich, and editor John Hooker.

In five years, the three men had overhauled the publisher, improving its distribution machinery and logistics and reinvigorating its publishing list. They believed Penguin could shape Australian life and culture by publishing interesting and vibrant books by Australian authors.

They wanted Penguin's books to engage with the political and cultural shifts that the country was undergoing, to expose old canards, question the orthodox, and pose alternatives.

Censorship was no small topic in all this. Those at Penguin saw censorship as an inhibition on these ambitions. We'd had issues with it before, in minor ways, Peter Froelich recalled, and we'd have drinks we'd say, 'It's wrong! How can we fix it? What can we do? How do we bring it to people's attention, so that it can be changed?'

The answer emerged when they heard of the ban placed on Portnoy's Complaint. Justifiably famous, a bestseller the world over, of well-discussed literary merit, it stood out immediately as a work with which to challenge the censorship system, just as its British parent company had a decade earlier.

Why not obtain the rights to an Australian edition, print it in secret, and publish it in one fell swoop? As Hooker -- who had the idea -- put it to Michie, Jack, we ought to really publish Portnoy's Complaint and give them one in the eye.

The risks were considerable. There was sure to be a backlash from police and politicians. Criminal charges against Penguin and its three leaders were almost certain. Financial losses thanks to seized stock and fines would be considerable. The legal fees incurred in fighting charges would be enormous. Booksellers who stocked the book would also be put on trial. But Penguin was determined.

John Michie was resolute. John offered to smash the whole thing down, Hooker said, later. When he was told what was about to happen, federal minister for customs Don Chipp swore that Michie would pay: I'll see you in jail for this. But Michie was not to be dissuaded. 'People who took exception to it at the time are mostly dead,' Roth said, some 40 years and 30 books after Portnoy's Complaint was published. A stampede

In July 1970, Penguin arranged to have three copies of Portnoy smuggled into Australia. In considerable secrecy, they used them to print 75,000 copies in Sydney and shipped them to wholesalers and bookstores around the country. It was an operation carried out with a precision that Hooker later likened to the German invasion of Poland.

The book was unveiled on August 31 1970. Michie held a press conference in his Mont Albert home, saying Portnoy's Complaint was a masterpiece and should be available to read in Australia. Neither he nor Penguin were afraid of the prosecutions: We are prepared to take the matter to the High Court.

The next morning, as the trucks bearing copies began to arrive, bookstores everywhere were rushed. At one Melbourne bookstore, the assistant manager was knocked down and trampled by a crowd eager to buy the book and support Penguin. It was a stampede, he said later. A bookstore manager in Sydney was amazed when the 500 copies his store took sold out in two-and-a-half hours.

All too soon, it was sold out. And with politicians making loud promises of retribution, the police descended.

Bookstores were raided. Unsold copies were seized. Court summons were delivered to Penguin, to Michie, and to booksellers the whole country over. A long list of court trials over the publication of Portnoy's Complaint and its sale were in the offing. A stellar line-up

So the trial that opened on the grey morning of October 19 1970, in the Melbourne Magistrates Court, was only the first in what promised to be a long battle.

Neither Michie nor his colleagues were daunted. They had prepared a defence based around literary merit and the good that might come from reading the book. They had retained expert lawyers and marshalled the cream of Australia's literary and academic elite to come to their aid.

Patrick White would appear as a witness for the defence. So too would academic John McLaren, The Age newspaper editor Graham Perkin, the critic A.A. Phillips, the historian Manning Clark, the poet Vincent Buckley, and many more. They were unconcerned by Flanagan's furious denunciations, by his shudders of disgust, and by his caustic indictments of Penguin and its leaders.

They were confident in their cause. As one telegram to Michie said:

ALL BEST WISHES FOR A RESOUNDING VICTORY FOR LITERATURE AND LIBERTY.

 

 

An epidemic of censorship...

Wuhan Diary book doesn't get released in Wuhan


Link Here21st July 2020
Full story: Book Censorship in China...Offical book censors and self censorship
A book that recounts life in the Chinese city of Wuhan while under a strict coronavirus lockdown has been effectively banned in China, its author said in a recent written interview with Kyodo News.

Chinese critics have been trying to thwart publication of the book titled Wuhan Diary , whose English version has received international recognition, although the country's authorities have not officially prohibited it, said the novelist known as Fang Fang.

The book is a collection of 60 posts from her account on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, regarding daily life during the so-called world's harshest coronavirus lockdown as well as, what she described as, the dark side of the authorities.

A publisher had prepared to distribute the book domestically but shied away from doing so out of fear of getting pressure from critics, she said.


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