The War for the Public Mind: Political Censorship in Nineteenth-Century Europe

The War for the Public Mind: Political Censorship in Nineteenth-Century Europe

The War for the Public Mind: Political Censorship in Nineteenth-Century Europe

The War for the Public Mind: Political Censorship in Nineteenth-Century Europe

Synopsis

From 1815 to 1914, European governments and their political oppositions were engaged in a constant "war" for the minds of the general population, especially the working classes. The German socialist newspaper, Hamburger Echo declared on September 27, 1910, "In waging our war, we do not throw bombs. Instead we throw our newspapers amongst the masses of the working people. Printing ink is our explosive." This book discusses the censorship of books, newspapers, caricatures, theater, and film through an analytical introductory survey and six chapters by leading specialists who summarize 19th-century censorship practices in the six major countries of continental Europe: Germany, Italy, France, Austria, Russia, and Spain. It is the most comprehensive study ever published about European censorhip practices during the 1815-1914 period.

Excerpt

In one sense, this book has been gestating for almost 200 years, since it deals with developments in Europe during the nineteenth century (defined here, as historians tend to, as covering the period from the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 until the outbreak of World War I in 1914). Even its more recent origins date back well over ten years to the reseach that went into my 1989 book Political Censorship of the Arts and the Press in Nineteenth-Century Europe. That book’s purpose was to collect in one place information about political censorship of a wide variety of media—press, theater, caricature, and cinema—in nineteenth-century Europe.

Having studied the subject for a lengthy period, it was obvious to me that, given the amount of energy expended by nineteenth-century European authorities in their vigorous censorship activities, this was an important and relatively neglected subject, at least partly because information related to it was scattered in literally thousands of books and articles and never before integrated in one volume. But I was acutely aware at the time that I was limited in my ability to compile a book on this intriguing subject since I read only English and French and my archival work was limited to France. As I pointed out in the preface to that earlier book, had I “mastered all 25 or so European languages” and “burrowed through the archives of all of the European countries” before writing it, the volume “would have been a better book, but it also would never have been written” as such a task would consume “several lifetimes, no doubt explaining why historians perhaps better qualified to perform it than I have failed to do so.”

All of this is a lengthy way of saying that, although I like that earlier

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