The Voices of the Victims

By King, Francis | The Spectator, November 1, 1997 | Go to article overview

The Voices of the Victims


King, Francis, The Spectator


AN EMBARRASSMENT OF TYRANNIES

edited by W.L Webb and Rose Bell

Gollancz, L20, pp. 347

One of the many distinguished contributors, John Mortimer, to this anthology in celebration of 25 years of Index on Censorship, once remarked, `The price of freedom is perpetual fussing.' By perpetually fussing over breaches of freedom, whether as monstrous as those in the former Soviet Union, China and many countries of Latin America and Africa, or as comparatively trivial as those in the near-approximations to democracies in which a privileged minority of us live, Index has amply justified both its founding, at the instigation of Stephen Spender in 1972, and its often financially precarious survival.

Spender - one of those admirable people for whom `the miseries of the world are misery and will not let them rest' - was prompted to his initiative by an extraordinarily courageous letter which Pavel Litvinov wrote to the Times in protest against the show trials then being held in the Soviet Union. Spender at once recognised that the vital thing for an imprisoned writer was the assurance from the outside world that he and, no less importantly, his creations had not been engulfed by the night.

The validity of this conclusion is confirmed by the work of the Books to Prisoners Committee of the English Centre of PEN, under the chairmanship of the novelist Pauline Neville. Many of the books sent may not be handed over to their intended recipients, many may not be the sort of books the recipients wish to read, but their despatch at least provides these victims of oppression with an assurance that, in the words of Stuart Hampshire in one of the most cogent essays in the anthology, `their names, and the names of their works, remain among the names of the living'.

In general, and not unexpectedly, the best contributions are those not by such world-class figures as Arthur Miller, Nadine Gordimer and Arthur C. Clarke, who have never themselves had to endure censorship or imprisonment, but by actual victims, some of them little known to the world at large. It is the victims who repeatedly come out with what is unexpected, often in a highly arresting or disconcerting manner.

For example, that fine Czech Jewish writer, Ivan Klima, ends a brilliant essay with the provocative statement: 'I believe that it is less important for a writer to worry about his freedom of expression than about what he wants to express.' Joseph Brodsky, sentenced to hard labour on a charge of 'parasitism' in the Soviet Union and later to win the Nobel Prize, is tremendous in an interview with Michael Scammell. Scammell - a nimble-witted Anglo-American academic, once editor of Index, whose authorised biography of Arthur Koestler has been awaited even longer than the restoration of the Albert Memorial - puts all the expected questions. Brodsky then proceeds to rap out a series of totally unexpected answers. `Why do you think that they sent you to prison?' Scammell asks. Brodsky replies that he does not really want to know. To him the question is `typically western' - in the West, every event has to have a cause. All he can say is 'A man who sets out to create his own independent world is bound sooner or later to become a foreign body in society. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Voices of the Victims
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    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.