You were also always under surveillance by a cadre of what Jane Austen called, in a very different context, “voluntary spies,” and what my students called the PC police. Regimes of virtue produce informants (which really does wonders for social cohesion). They also produce authorities, often self-appointed authorities, like the writing director at Scripps who decreed that you aren’t supposed to use the word crazy. Whenever I hear that you aren’t supposed to say something, I want to know, where did this supposed descend from? Who decided, and who gave them the right to decide? And whenever I hear that a given group of students demands this or says that, I want to ask, whom exactly are we talking about: all of them, or just a few of them? Did the group choose its leaders, or did the leaders choose themselves?
This is done through giving Macbeth thoughts of treason against the king, telling him to secure the kingdom from Banquo and his descendants, and giving him a false sense of invincibility against his enemies.
giving offense essays on censorship Authors' rights were in.
Yet in ''Giving Offense,'' an extraordinary collection of essays written over the past eight years, Mr. Coetzee does not cast himself as the noble, freedom-loving artist; he finds this role almost as narrow and predictable. He rejects the melodrama (he does not call it that) of heroic artist and foul villain censor because it is simpleminded, and like all simplemindedness leads back toward censorship. Instead, he seeks to demonstrate the complexity and insidiousness of censorship's harm.
Download PDF: Giving Offense: Essays on Censorship …
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, 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,
"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."—
"These erudite essays form a powerful, bracing criticism of censorship in its many guises."—
"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,
"An extraordinary collection of essays."—Martha Bayles,
"A disturbing and illuminating moral expedition."—Richard Eder,
Censorship essay giving offense - …
Nobel laureate J. M. Coetzee's 1996 collection of essays, Giving Offense: Essays on Censorship, is about writers who "give offense" and the readers who muffle, torture, and kill them as a result. A collection that should be of great interest not only to Africanists but also to scholars of other regions where censorship has marred free expression, Giving Offense closely examines the works of South African writers such as Breyten Breytenbach and André Brink but also analyzes the psychology behind South African censorship policies under apartheid and how these codes and measurements affected South African writing and reading practices. Coetzee populates the embattled history of authorship with a wide spectrum of subjects and places—South Africa, the Soviet Union, the Western canon as represented by D. H. Lawrence, and the U.S. debate on feminism and pornography, among others—and unsentimental portrayals of those who have occupied a place in its history. The space that writers such as Osip Mandelstam, Brink, and Breytenbach come to inhabit is not a rarified, transcendent pantheon. Rather than set aside authors as a privileged class that courageously writes against tyranny, Coetzee's critique measures the degree to which censorship marks these writers and their work. This "twinship" (118) of writers and censors disfigures what Coetzee calls the "Oedipal" narrative (118–19) that elevates authors above their censors and the tyrannies that house them; he re-presents their work as made as much within, as against, state-sponsored censorship.