Academic journal article Journal of Information Ethics

Censors at Work: How States Shaped Literature

Academic journal article Journal of Information Ethics

Censors at Work: How States Shaped Literature

Article excerpt

Censors at Work: How States Shaped Literature

Robert Darnton. New York: W.W. Norton, 2014. 316 pp. $27.95

Censors at Work is a culminating study produced by Robert Darnton who, during a lifetime devoted to scholarship, has turned out countless books on a variety of subjects, many rooted in 18th century French history. He also happened to be the director of the Harvard University library.

Darnton divides this study into three sections dealing first with France, then with India, and finally with East Germany. By not surveying state censorship (which exists in order to control communication through the repression of books) in countless lands, he is able to concentrate fully and in great detail on extirpation in literary works in these three countries and although the analyses are distinct, this allows for a comparative historical overview. Darnton points out that literature plays different roles in different environments; in some locations, the Soviet Union/ Russia, for example, literature is lifeenhancing. His goal was to interview the censors and this he did in France by consulting historical documents in archives and books. Censorship can occur in many ways, prior to or after publication. In 18th century France, it took place through the granting of privilege prior to publication. Sometimes authors and their censors cooperate (as we similarly do today through self-censorship). For those unfamiliar with the evils of censorship and how it can have a horrific effect not just on the intellectual life of a country but also on an individual; recall that Solzhenitsyn was sent to the gulag for criticizing Stalin. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.