Without freedom of publishing, culture withers
telegraph.co.uk – Friday April 28, 2023
In a world of ideological polarisation, books are in a hazardous position. On the Left, we have those who want to rewrite history, to vandalise our cultural heritage – as illustrated by Penguin Random House’s assault on the works of Roald Dahl, disclosed by The Telegraph in February – and to introduce a literary landscape where the experience of the individual is favoured over the unfettered imagination.
Yet while such small-mindedness is prevalent on both sides of the Atlantic, America is also seeing a rise in censorship and book banning from the Right – which, fortunately, is yet to make it to British shores. The New York Times reported that according to the American Library Association, attempted bans have seen an alarming rise, with 2,571 titles under fire in 2022, compared with a mere 223 in 2020. Many of these books are estimable, but seem to fall victim to their thematic content, which doesn’t always sit well with middle America. Third on the list, for instance, was Toni Morrison’s debut novel The Bluest Eye (first published in 1970), which not only features a racially abused black child who yearns to have blue eyes, but also contains a hefty amount of sex and violence.
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