Censorship in Canadian Literature

Censorship in Canadian Literature

MARK COHEN
Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 224
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt81d75
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Censorship in Canadian Literature
    Book Description:

    Cohen critiques Timothy Findley's broad anti-censorship position; he traces Margaret Atwood's evolution from implicit support for the censorship of pornography in Bodily Harm to the rejection of censorship in The Handmaid's Tale; and he provides the first detailed study of the draft of Margaret Laurence's unfinished novel, showing the degree to which her final silence was a result of her censorship ordeal. Finally, an analysis of the writing of Beatrice Culleton and Marlene Nourbese Philip shows how different kinds of socio-cultural censorship - from gate-keepers to self-censorship - silence Native and black Canadian voices.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6937-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. 1 Introduction: Justifying Just Judgment
    (pp. 3-20)

    The main goal of this book is to explicate and comment on the views - both explicit and implicit - of some of our most prominent Canadian writers on censorship, but before I can begin this work I must clarify what I mean by that term. TheOxford English Dictionarydefines a censor (the noun) in four ways. The first refers to the original use of the term to refer to the Roman magistrates who took the census of the citizens. The last is used in psychology to describe the mental faculty that represses certain elements of the unconscious. My...

  6. 2 The Case against Censorship: Timothy Findley
    (pp. 21-48)

    Although the metaphor of censorship as rape is a common one among writers - we will see it subtly surfacing in the writing of Margaret Atwood and Beatrice Culleton and more overtly in the work of Marlene Nourbese Philip - it nevertheless points to the power of the issue of censorship to provoke strong, visceral responses. Findley's use of the metaphor above comes in an interview with Johan Aitken in which he criticizes those who attempted to haveThe Warsbanned because of its homosexual rape scene. Judging by his responses to episodes of censorship such as this one and...

  7. 3 The Ambivalent Artist: Margaret Atwood
    (pp. 49-87)

    While Findley’s position on censorship has remained relatively stable throughout his career, Margaret Atwood’s seems to have altered somewhat during the time she was most concered with the issue, as illustrated by her two quite different comments above. In the first, made in an interview in 1979 (with Val Casselton), Atwood offers something of an apology for censorship by explaining it as the expression of the desire to bring into existence an ideal world by shutting out values contrary to that ideal. Quite a different sentiment is expressed in the second comment (quoted in Leckie, 187), made five years later,...

  8. 4 In Defence of Censorship: Margaret Laurence
    (pp. 88-118)

    James King opens his biography of Margaret Laurence with two paragraphs that reveal the startling information that the esteemed Canadian author took her own life. These paragraphs are immediately followed by the comment reprinted above. That this comment on the effect of censorship controversies on Laurence figures so prominently in King’s introductory remarks (and that he devotes a chapter to the incidents) testifies to the importance - only now emerging in public and critical consciousness - of censorship issues in Margaret Laurence’s life, to the impact that opposition to her novels had on her writing and her psyche. Given this...

  9. 5 The Inevitability of Censorship: Beatrice Culleton and Marlene Nourbese Philip
    (pp. 119-149)

    As I have argued in the introduction to this book, censorship is not only the heavy-handed, often legally sanctioned, direct suppression of discourse by an authorized agent. In this chapter I discuss “sociocultural censorship,” which is the exclusion of some discourse as a result of the competition of social groups in the cultural marketplace. I present examples of this type of exclusion of and in Canadian literature, and point to discussions of this literature by critics and the writers themselves to show that it makes sense to see this exclusionary practice as censorship.¹ This being the case, the debate over...

  10. 6 Conclusion: Towards a More “Just” Judgment
    (pp. 150-166)

    In the course of examining censorship issues raised, both explicitly and implicitly, in English Canadian literature, I have identified several different arguments that Canadian writers make against censorship and have tried to show that their flaws render them incapable of sustaining a position that opposes censorship on principle. Two of these arguments, which Findley makes implicitly inHeadhunter, are the non-consequentialist and consequentialist arguments for free speech. The non-consequentialist argument claims that free speech has intrinsic worth for society and that censorship, which infringes on free speech, is therefore detrimental. The problem with this argument is that whenever its proponents...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 167-182)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 183-198)
  13. Index
    (pp. 199-205)