Giving Offense: Essays on Censorship

University of Chicago Press
Free sample

Winner of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature.

J. M. Coetzee presents a coherent, unorthodox analysis of censorship from the perspective of one who has lived and worked under its shadow. The essays collected here attempt to understand the passion that plays itself out in acts of silencing and censoring. He argues that a destructive dynamic of belligerence and escalation tends to overtake the rivals in any field ruled by censorship.

From Osip Mandelstam commanded to compose an ode in praise of Stalin, to Breyten Breytenbach writing poems under and for the eyes of his prison guards, to Aleksander Solzhenitsyn engaging in a trial of wits with the organs of the Soviet state, Giving Offense focuses on the ways authors have historically responded to censorship. It also analyzes the arguments of Catharine MacKinnon for the suppression of pornography and traces the operations of the old South African censorship system.

"The most impressive feature of Coetzee's essays, besides his ear for language, is his coolheadedness. He can dissect repugnant notions and analyze volatile emotions with enviable poise."—Kenneth Baker, San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

"Those looking for simple, ringing denunciations of censorship's evils will be disappointed. Coetzee explicitly rejects such noble tritenesses. Instead . . . he pursues censorship's deeper, more fickle meanings and unmeanings."—Kirkus Reviews

"These erudite essays form a powerful, bracing criticism of censorship in its many guises."—Publishers Weekly

"Giving Offense gets its incisive message across clearly, even when Coetzee is dealing with such murky theorists as Bakhtin, Lacan, Foucault, and René; Girard. Coetzee has a light, wry sense of humor."—Bill Marx, Hungry Mind Review

"An extraordinary collection of essays."—Martha Bayles, New York Times Book Review

"A disturbing and illuminating moral expedition."—Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times Book Review
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Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Jul 16, 2018
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Pages
297
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ISBN
9780226111773
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Collections / Essays
Literary Collections / General
Political Science / General
Political Science / Law Enforcement
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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In the 1890s and for years thereafter, America reverberated with the name of the "notorious Anarchist," feminist, revolutionist, and agitator, Emma Goldberg. A Russian Jewish immigrant at the age of 17, she moved by her own efforts from seamstress in a clothing factory to internationally known radical lecturer, writer, editor, and friend of the oppressed. This book is a collection of her remarkably penetrating essays, far in advance of their time, originally published by the Mother Earth press which she founded.
In the first of these essays, Anarchism: What It Really Stands For, she says, "Direct action, having proven effective along economic lines, is equally potent in the environment of the individual." In Minorities Versus Majorities she holds that social and economic well-being will result only through "the non-compromising determination of intelligent minorities, and not through the mass." Other pieces deal with The Hypocrisy of Puritanism; Prisons: A Social Crime and Failure; The Psychology of Political Violence; The Drama: A Powerful Disseminator of Radical Thought; Patriotism: A Menace to Liberty; and The Tragedy of Woman's Emancipation. A biographical sketch by Hippolyte Havel precedes the essays.
Anarchism and Other Essays provides a fascinating look into revolutionary issues at the turn of the century, a prophetic view of the social and economic future, much of which we have seen take place, and above all, a glimpse into the mind of an extraordinary woman: brilliant, provocative, dedicated, passionate, and what used to be called "high-minded."
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