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Censorship is a complex concept and before moving forward it is important to have a working definition. The types of discourses that are excluded can vary greatly, although censorship often focuses around particular scenes or themes that are then said to affect the integrity of the text as a whole. The specific judgements made around these texts often relate to the perceived appropriateness of scenes or themes of sexuality, gender, and violence.

The kinds of agents who make judgements are commonly those with significant political power, such as a government, or perhaps even a school board.

This can mean either the refusal of a press to publish a text, the banning of a text from the country, or the removal of a text from a school syllabus. However, as Cohen points out, attempts are also made by non-governmental agents to censor texts, be it through petitions or individual parents who raise the issue with schools. The notion of an ideological force motivating the act of censorship requires some explanation as this is key to understanding the conviction with which individuals or groups take stances—form judgements—on a text. I will conclude with a brief description of a modern case, testimony to the many ways that self- censorship mechanisms operate.

The case studies will illustrate self-censorship that sometimes emanates from pragmatic gain and loss considerations, but that mainly reacts to strong taboos with roots going as far back as biblical times.


Some historical background will be necessary to uncover their otherwise inexplicable force. Its legal system is essentially comprised of remnants of Ottoman law in force until , British Mandate laws which incorporate a large body of English Common Law , and elements of Jewish religious laws. Censorship covering two broad areas was inherited from the British Mandate of Palestine The first was censorship of military material with an impact on national security, the second, censorship of obscene material.

As is the case in British law, the definition of obscene remains vague. However, it is linked in Israel with the wish to protect Holocaust survivors.

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In the area of national security, Israel enforces media censorship laws, based on British emergency regulations in effect since , that apply to domestic media, foreign newspapers and wire service transmissions from or via Israel. The media agreed to abide by the orders of the Military Censor, while the IDF agreed not to abuse its role.

Since the country is deemed to be under constant threat, emergency regulations are the norm. One very common way for Israeli media to circumvent censorship is to leak items to foreign news sources, which, by virtue of being located outside of Israel, are not subject to Israeli law. Under the prevailing emergency regulations, certain subjects have remained strictly taboo until today. This has a direct impact on translation. The Israeli government filed law-suits against him in both Canada and the United States and sought injunctions against publication.

In a surprising decision that outraged US media, a judge in New York granted the request at a 1 a. Another sacred cow by Israeli standards is any violation of the ambiguity surrounding its nuclear program. The book did appear later in Hebrew translation , Shoken Publishing, Jerusalem , since Cohen was able to prove that he had used material that was available to the public; there was thus no point in keeping it censored in Israel once it was available elsewhere. In addition, over the years he developed close contacts with his previous opponents.

British tradition influenced obscenity legislation even before the British Mandatory Rule was promulgated. Puritan values infiltrated Israel when the country was part of the Ottoman Empire at the turn of the 20 th century, with the arrival of the first waves of immigrants from Europe. Thirty years of British Mandate until the establishment of the State of Israel enhanced its spread, especially with the introduction of the British Obscenity Laws into Israeli Mandatory Law in After the establishment of the State of Israel, British law was readopted, but the penalties were even more severe than before three years imprisonment, i.

A series of coalition governments comprised of small parties, including Orthodox parties, created situations which helped maintain the status quo in these matters. As late as , a Committee with Judge Witkon at its head recommended that literature, art and science be allowed to develop freely, at the risk of publishing obscene material. The upheaval that brought the right-wing parties to power only strengthened the influence of the religious factions. Three comments must be added to elucidate the role of formal censorship in Israel:.

The law was very lenient when it came to literature.

Literary Censorship and Controversy in Canada | CanLit Guides

Whereas two Mandatory laws from prevented the screening of movies or the production of plays without the pre-authorization of a censorship board which, despite continuous parliamentary and public debate continued to interfere with cinema and theater until the late s , books were spared. There is no list of forbidden books in Israel, nor has there ever been such a list. No book is forbidden per se , unless it contravenes the criminal law.

There is no statutory decree that authorizes courts to destroy material considered obscene, as has existed in England since These are significant points to remember when analyzing the intricacy of formal censorship and self-censorship operating in Israel.

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The following case studies will illustrate that the line between them is not clear cut. Since the subject is too vast to explore fully in a short essay, I propose to concentrate on two significant cases. In Hebrew, the word hazir has accumulated a wide spectrum of negative connotations that go far beyond its metaphorical use and Jewish culinary or dietary restrictions.

In his Moreh Nevochim [17] 3 rd part, chapter 48 , the renowned Torah scholar Moses Maimonides Rabbi Moshe Ben-Maimon , who was court physician to the Islamic emperor Saladin during the 12 th century in Egypt and therefore may have been deferring to his emperor, who could eat every other meat but pork, explains the law by claiming pigs live in filth and eat filth excrement.

Moreover, other animals, such as goats and chickens, are also known to eat dung. Anthropologist Mary Douglas Douglas, , pp. The fall of the Middle Eastern pig, it is argued, could be attributed to the nomadic nature of the Israelites, and later also to deforestation and the increase in the human population that made raising pigs too costly ibid. At least three other cultures in the ancient Middle East, the Phoenician, the Egyptian, and the Babylonian, were as put off by pigs as was the Israeli culture, thus invalidating the argument that the Israelites were forbidden pork as a means of distinguishing them from their neighbors.

Unfortunately, this attitude to pigs did not stop in ancient times. Jewish aversion to pigs grew over the centuries, when other nations used the animal to oppress the Jews. Claudine Fabre-Vassas cites numerous examples, starting with the time of the Maccabees, in BC, when Jews were martyred if they refused to eat pork and sacrifice pigs on the altar in the temple , pp.

Studying Christian Europe from the Middle Ages to the present, she discovers an intricate pattern of self-definition in which Christians drew the boundaries of who they were by contrasting themselves to Jews through rituals of eating pork ibid. She cites wide-spread European legends that associated Jews with pigs, such as when Jesus turns a Jewess and her babies into a sow with its piglets, just to name one.

In the s, religious parties tried to impose a law forbidding the raising of pigs in Israel, to which the Labor parties objected. The result was a compromise that gave each municipality the right to decide whether or not to forbid or limit pork husbandry within its boundaries. The Supreme Court, however, decreed that municipalities could not make decisions pertaining to religion and faith, and deferred the issue back to parliament. In a law was passed in the Knesset forbidding pork husbandry.

Exempt were municipalities with large Christian populations. The law did not deal specifically with selling or buying pork, and in there was an attempt to include these activities in it, but the motion was rejected.

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In , with the re-evaluation of basic laws on the one hand, and increased sales of pork especially to Russian immigrants on the other, the law was re-examined, with the result that municipalities could no longer prohibit the sale of the meat. In the Supreme Court decreed that the sale of pork should be allowed in any district where there was demand for it or where the majority did not disapprove of it.

Hebrew, however, did not catch up with the liberalization of the law. Most present-day Israelis are not aware of the historical identity-related implications of pork-eaters versus non pork-eaters, nor are they acquainted with the many anti-Semitic legends associating Jews with pigs, yet the need to sanitize the word seems to be pre-programmed. Hypothetically at least, literature, especially translated literature, should have been exempt from the dietary rule controversies.

After all, there has never been a law, decree or rule to the effect that pigs cannot appear in written texts, literary or otherwise, nor is there a law that forbids non-Jewish or Jewish, for that matter literary figures to eat pork.

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Yet, especially in translated literature for children and youth, there is a recurring censorial procedure: while the animal—pig—is usually allowed to stay, pork is eliminated. Leipzig-born caricaturist Friedl Stern is said to have made the necessary artistic alterations Achiasaf, The translator could obviously justify his decision as the desire to replace the breakfast with something more familiar to Israeli children, rather than in terms of expurgation. Nevertheless, the end result is the same. These examples are taken from old translations, but the procedure has not changed drastically over the years.

In some translations, however, the concept is partially rendered. The occasional use of half of the collocation may lead us to suppose that this is not an example of long-lasting prohibition of the word in literary translation, but rather the absence of an appropriate word in Hebrew. Writers and translators seem to assume that they had better use a more appropriate food.

Censorship in Canadian Literature

I would like to stress the voluntary nature of such sanitizing processes. Often, a commercial motivation is involved: Why risk offending potential readers?

Why limit your reading public? Since Orthodox Jews have their own publications and their own publishing houses, general publishers should, in principle, not worry about displeasing this sector of the book market. Is the publisher more attentive to his public or to market demand, than the translator is? During my work in collaboration with the publishing industry over many years, I have had no personal knowledge of such explicit demands on the part of publishers.

Trying to stay one step ahead of the censor—be it your employer, your public or your potential prize Committee—is what self-censorship is all about. When Dr. What cannot be found in the media is information about Dr. The Committee was established in in order to examine and censor obscene material in literary texts. It organized Israeli publishers, convincing them to voluntarily submit for scrutiny books suspected of containing obscene material.

As opposed to Abba Eban, [27] his predecessor in the Ministry, Aran was passionately dedicated and wished to leave his mark. During his last term completed in , he introduced major reforms in education, particularly in secondary schools. On a personal level, he was exemplary in his modest, if not ascetic, life style. The results of the most recent surveys are posted here. We strive to keep accurate, up-to-date records of challenges to print materials in Canada.

When a book is challenged in your school or community, use our case study form to let us know what happens. Outside Canada, would-be censors attack and ban the works of Canadian authors.