Giving Offense: Essays on Censorship
by J M Coetzee
In Giving Offense, South African writer J. M. Coetzee presents a coherent, unorthodox analysis of censorship from the perspective of a writer who has ... Show synopsis In Giving Offense, South African writer J. M. Coetzee presents a coherent, unorthodox analysis of censorship from the perspective of a writer who has lived and worked under its shadow. Widely acclaimed for his many novels, Coetzee is also a brilliant literary critic and essayist. The essays collected here attempt to understand the passion that plays itself out in acts of silencing and censoring. Subscribing neither to the myth of the writer as a moral giant nor to that of the writer as persecuted innocent, Coetzee 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 Aleksandr 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. Finally, Coetzee delves into the early history of apartheid and critizes the blankness of contemporary political science in its efforts to address the deeper motives behind apartheid.