Censors at Work

Censors at Work

How States Shaped Literature

Book - 2014
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WW Norton
With his uncanny ability to spark life in the past, Robert Darnton re-creates three historical worlds in which censorship shaped literary expression in distinctive ways.In eighteenth-century France, censors, authors, and booksellers collaborated in making literature by navigating the intricate culture of royal privilege. Even as the king's censors outlawed works by Voltaire, Rousseau, and other celebrated Enlightenment writers, the head censor himself incubated Diderot’s great Encyclopedie by hiding the banned project’s papers in his Paris townhouse. Relationships at court trumped principle in the Old Regime.Shaken by the Sepoy uprising in 1857, the British Raj undertook a vast surveillance of every aspect of Indian life, including its literary output. Years later the outrage stirred by the British partition of Bengal led the Raj to put this knowledge to use. Seeking to suppress Indian publications that it deemed seditious, the British held hearings in which literary criticism led to prison sentences. Their efforts to meld imperial power and liberal principle fed a growing Indian opposition.In Communist East Germany, censorship was a component of the party program to engineer society. Behind the unmarked office doors of Ninety Clara-Zetkin Street in East Berlin, censors developed annual plans for literature in negotiation with high party officials and prominent writers. A system so pervasive that it lodged inside the authors’ heads as self-censorship, it left visible scars in the nation’s literature.By rooting censorship in the particulars of history, Darnton's revealing study enables us to think more clearly about efforts to control expression past and present.
This absorbing history by a brilliant scholar and writer deepens our understanding of how censorship works.

Baker & Taylor
An engrossing history of censorship begins with Enlightenment authors Voltaire and Rousseau in 18th-century France and continues through Indian authors that were censored during British imperial rule and on to Communist-era East Germany, cataloging the historical and literary effects. 15,000 first printing.

Book News
Darnton examines three historic cases of state literary censorship, investigating the context in which the censorship occurred, as well as its effect upon literature produced and the society of each of the nations involved. The text begins with an examination of the court sanctioned censorship of eighteenth-century France. The author then looks at British state censorship in colonial India and its application to root out sedition during the British partition of Bengal. Finally, he examines state censorship in Communist East Germany, and the chilling, internalized effect it had on East German authors. Darnton is the director of the University Library at Harvard University. Annotation ©2014 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (protoview.com)

& Taylor

A history of censorship begins with Voltaire and Rousseau in eighteenth-century France, continuing to Indian authors who were censored during British imperial rule, and ending with Communist-era East Germany.

Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton & Company, [2014]
New York : W.W. Norton & Company, [2014]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780393242294
Branch Call Number: 363.31 DAR 2014
Characteristics: 316 pages cm


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