Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Dead Souls?

daguerrotype of Gogol (1845, Sergei Lvovich Levitsky)

Here is a quote from Richard Pevear's introduction to Dead Souls. The novel had been submitted for review to a censorship committee in Moscow. Taking off from a letter Gogol had written to his friend Pletnyov from January 7, 1942 the translator comments: “The acting chairman of the committee a certain Golokhyvastov cried out ‘in the voice of an ancient Roman’ the moment he saw the title: ‘Dead Souls! No, never will I allow that--the soul is immortal, there can be no such thing as a dead soul; the author is taking up arms against immortality!'" Guess Golokhyvastov was triggered. It’s reassuring to find that the world hasn’t changed much. Such bluster is an equal opportunity employer. In fact religious fundamentalists and radical femninists--previously unlikely bedfellows--have become fellow travelers when it comes to the question of free expression and pornography. Ultimately the issues go far beyond the mere censorship of language to the question of history itself and the proprietary ways in which varying factions attempt to control or distort their own narratives. Will Philip Larkin’s famed “They fuck you up, your mum and dad” one day be erased by a lynch mob? Will the poet be shunned? Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 was prescient. It's almost reassuring to be reminded that Trump was not the first Caligula.

"Read "The First Law of Emotional Thermodynamics" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to Pussy Riot's "Panic Attack"

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