Two established publishing veterans teamed together to create All Seasons Press, a publishing company encouraging conservative voices in a post-Trump era.
“I very much fear for the younger generation of writers,” Sir Kazuo Ishiguro told the BBC.
The 66-year-old author and Nobel prize winner is concerned that writers, especially younger, less-established writers, were self-censoring by avoiding writing from certain viewpoints and characters outside their immediate experiences in an attempt to avoid being “canceled” or “trolled” on the internet. “I think that it is a sad state of affairs,” he adds.
His comments come during a time when authors such as Jenine Cummins and Julie Burchill have come under fire for comments they have made. His specific worry is that young writers “rightly perhaps feel that their careers are more fragile, their reputations are more fragile, and they don’t want to take risks.”
When asked if he believed he could be canceled, Ishiguro said, “I think I’m in a privileged and relatively protected position because I’m a very established author. I’m the age I am. I have a reputation. Perhaps it is an illusion, but I think I am protected.” He does indeed have the reputation. Receiving the Nobel prize for Literature in 2017 and knighthood in 2019, Sir Kazuo has enjoyed a career spanning 40 years, penning critically acclaimed works such as Never Let Me Go and The Remains of the Day.
“Novelists should feel free to write from whichever viewpoint they wish or represent all kinds of views,” he asserts, “right from an early age, I’ve written from the point of view of people very different than me. My first novel was written from the point of view of a woman.” This is about his first novel, A Pale View of Hills, about a Japanese mother dealing with the aftermath of her daughter’s suicide.
While Ishiguro insists that authors should be free to write whatever they want, he does see the other side of the coin: “I think there are very valid parts of the argument about appropriation of voices. We do have an obligation to teach ourselves and to do research and to treat people with respect if we’re going to have them feature in our work.” He also states that he believes that there must be “decency towards people outside of one’s own immediate experience.” Ishiguro concludes that there should be a more open discussion on cancel culture and freedom of speech.
Sir Kazuo Ishiguro’s latest novel Klara and the Sun, about a solar-powered robot that befriends a teenage girl, is set to be released today, March 2nd, 2021.
Featured image via bbc.com
Censorship is everywhere and the general assumption is that it’s for the utmost moral reasoning. From a young age, people instantly recognize the bleeps on TV and know they weren’t supposed to hear the naughty words coming from the screen. It’s so ingrained in us so young that no one thinks to question it until adulthood. People go through an equal amount of experiences that hopefully allowed their skin to thicken to such things no rational person would pepper into a child’s ever-developing brain. However, there is indeed a large divide between an obscenity being blurted out and something much more obtrusive to the artist’s vision. While censorship can have some positive benefits to it, just like an egg in a frying pan the degree set can quickly burn away everything that was worthwhile.
When it comes to the world of literature, censorship can often steers away from the moral standpoint that is practically the sole principle that holds the whole idea together. I’m focusing on American Literature specifically because I feel this is where it’s the most contentious, which brings us to the grandaddy of timeless American classics: Mark Twain. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a ton of different controversial themes are painted in a more starkly realistic light. The poor downtrodden of the south, race relations of the time, child abuse, con artistry, slave liberation, racial acceptance, and to put it bluntly, the perfuse usage of the N word are all covered through the novel. At the time the book was being heavily criticized and censored to the point where some regional copies of the book were redacted to change what offended many members of Twain’s audience. What were these people trying to keep away from the younger eyes of all the controversial subjects listed? The diction of some of the characters.
image via medium
The whole novel takes place in the south where ostensibly people speak ‘funny’ as Twain once put it in some of his travel writing. Twain didn’t write the dialogue of Huck Finn the way he did out of malice but for accuracy. He believed that if his characters spoke authentically in their respective regions that it would drive the points the novel was making about how people treat one another that much further. A very effective way to reflect in real life is to make a distinct but subtle connection between the two, acting as a conduit for the readers.
Twain brilliantly chose the manner in which different characters spoke to make the world of Huck Finn feel as real and at times subtly tragic to the world he and his contemporaries inhabited. His critics on the other hand believed that the use of diction would instil bad grammar and speech in the youth. All while completely missing the point of the novel which was a grand statement on race that wouldn’t be too different from an abolitionist pamphlet, at least in a didactic sense.
As a result, the book was censored in a way that would fly over most people’s heads. Obviously, through modern eyes, the N word would be the focal point of the issue but for the popularity of the timeless novel. What shuts down that argument is that despite the word, the usage it drives home the point of how people interact with each other. Huck admires Jim as a father figure even though he uses the word just as much as the other characters do but Huck’s intentions are ultimately altruistic as he fights to set him free in the end. All of this brave content would’ve been lost had the censorship gone further and in fact, the argument against the book’s usage of the racial slur still comes up today. Once more with good intentions, these critics miss the point as to why it’s used.
image via Smithsonian Mag
With a plethora of increasingly graphic content in books as well as other mediums ever-growing, this serves as a good example of when the purest idea of censorship can get muddled under issues that are fueled by a lack of understanding. The art suffers tenfold when people try to censor anything under the guise that the minds of the youth shall not be tainted by the content adults take for granted. When it’s not backed for the right reasons, the public doctors the novelist’s thoughts to something that more resembles a vivisection as opposed to a gulp of medicine.
If authors aren’t allowed to reasonably explore differing and oftentimes difficult subject matters then that alone can sully the minds of the youth as those ideas explored encourage them to etch out the literary landscape further. Stagnation of forethought is infinitely worse than any diction a southerner can muster. While censorship can help, I reiterate, in some disturbing scenes that I won’t go into detail about in say, Stephen King’s It, the line between safe tinkering via the masses and displaying the woes of mankind is finely drawn. Censorship can indeed be beneficial but only under just cause as well as forbearance for the sake of the message the world needs to witness.
Feature image via Flickr
Here are five modern banned books that many children will not be able to access the worlds of, and why we need to protest these decisions.
For a country intent on the loosest possible definitions of free speech, one of our most marginalized populations is subject to an insidious degree of censorship.
The United States—the world leader in incarceration, imprisoning 2.2 million at this very moment—is fixated on free speech, but we favor the adjective over the verb. Prisons throughout the country are banning books that disagree with the racial disparity in U.S. prisons, the prison-industrial complex, and other incisive critiques of mass incarceration. And some are banning books altogether: one Georgia jail recently imposed a ban on all books, excluding only religious texts. Louisiana has banned non-Christian religious material, a decision that evidently violates the Constitutional provisions for religious freedom. Even the more liberal state of Washington forbade outsiders to make charitable book donations to prisons. Although the Washington Department of Corrections has rolled back the ban to accept donations from a small, specified list of charities, this compromise hardly changes the fact that WDOC only changed the rule because it couldn’t get away with it.
Recently, the Arizona Department of Corrections has banned Chokehold, a non-fiction work exploring the role of race within the criminal justice system. Written by a former prosecutor, the book dispenses advice for black men and details the rights people can use to protect themselves (for example, during searches). While this may be unjust, it’s not unprecedented: North Carolina and Florida have banned The New Jim Crow, another book dedicated to exposing racism’s inextricable link to mass incarceration.
This past week, the American Civil Liberties Union formally addressed the issue, requesting that Arizona overturn this ban. An excerpt from the letter explains the hypocrisy inherent in the ban:
The very people who experience extreme racial disparity in incarceration cannot be prohibited from reading a book whose purpose is to examine and educate about that disparity. Improving understanding of policing, incarceration, and racial bias is especially critical given Arizona’s stark racial disparities and overall high rates of incarceration.
Advocates have pointed out the practical issues with these bans, those that transcend moral or ethical arguments. There is no budgetary component to book-donation charities, meaning that there are no financial consequences for allowing these charities to stock prison libraries. It’s also likely that incarcerated people will not spend their entire lives in prison. Given that the average prison sentence is three years, state departments of correction should assume that most of these people will return to society. Shouldn’t we want them to be emotionally healthy when they do? Shouldn’t we want them to be educated?
Under the First Amendment, only books which would actively endanger the prison or the people in it are eligible for bans. This clause would, for example, bar a non-fiction work that might detail how to make explosives or weaponry. The intent is purely physical rather than psychological; ostensibly, there is no danger to society in allowing prisoners to understand the judicial system that keeps them confined. But there is a danger to the system that imprisons them.
Featured Image Via Video Blocks.