Category Archives: Censorship

Oh This Age! Oh These Manners!

Right.  Let me see if I can justify this post.  It’s not going to be typical of this blog.

It is about a writer.  That’s good.  On this blog I write about writers and writing.  But it’s really about Twitter and a Melbourne daily broadsheet called The Age.  Not so good.  There we enter unfamiliar waters.  Possibly waters marked ‘Here Be (Marine Species Of) Dragons’.  We’ll see.  But it’s also about freedom of expression and about variety of expression.  And that’s something I’ve written about before.

If, like me, you live in Victoria then you already know that last week Catherine Deveny lost her job as an opinion columnist with The Age.  And you – more or less – know why.  For any readers hailing from more far-flung areas, or any living humble lives in caves and only alleviating the boredom by reading, a brief re-cap is probably in order.  For the rest of you, be assured that I’ll keep it very short. Continue reading


If I Profane With My Unworthiest Blog…

I despise bad language, but I love bad language.

But do let me rephrase that – I realise it wasn’t exactly clear.

I abhor bad grammar and the employment of the English language in such ways as render it ugly or even plain, but I love swearing. Continue reading

In Defence of Racism

I was stunned recently to hear that one of my students would be studying a novel by Agatha Christie entitled And Then There Were None.  Stunned because I know Christie’s work quite well, but I’d never heard of that one.  Handily, her complete works rest on a bookshelf in my house (a collection of volumes which was most foully filched from me by my sister, but let that pass).  I searched for a long time but I couldn’t see And Then There Were None anywhere.

It took a while, but finally I realised that the novel in question was called Ten Little Niggers, before it was called Ten Little Indians, before it got its present title.

Where exactly, I thought to myself, will this end?  With a new edition of the complete works of Joseph Conrad, including The African-American of the Narcissus?  And of course, we’d have to re-bowdlerise Shakespeare: how well does ‘the sooty bosom/Of such a thing as thou’ scan to sensitive modern eyes, exactly?  And what’s to be done with ‘It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night/Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear’? (Othello: I.ii.69-70, and Romeo and Juliet: I.v.44-45, respectively.)

These meditations resurfaced when I recently re-read Evelyn Waugh’s brilliant Decline and Fall.  And they resurfaced because I wondered what a bien-pensant cultural commentator would make of it. Continue reading