Saturday, 12 April 2014

Readers in Brazil, Writers Nowhere


This blog has suddenly acquired about thirty readers in Brazil. You know, where the nuts come from. I don’t know why, but I’m pleased of course, and my sympathies go out especially to the 5,000 or so homeless people in Rio who occupied some empty buildings and have just been forcibly and violently evicted by, reports say, as many as 50,000 police.

For the last few days a powerful coalition of Google and Microsoft has prevented me from writing the blog. They said it wasn’t mine, that its several hundred pages must have been written by some other Simon Darragh. This reminded me of occasions when far more distinguished writers than myself suffered something similar:

His best-known play ‘The Importance of being Earnest’ was running to packed houses in London’s West End when Oscar Wilde first tried to sue Lord Queensberry for libel and was then prosecuted for sodomy. The play continued to run, but Wilde’s name was removed from the posters and programmes.

When the Nazis came to power in Germany they published a new edition of the poetry anthology used in schools. All poems by Jews had been excised from the new edition; all but one: ‘Die Lorelei’ by Heinrich Heine. Everyone knew this poem, still one of the most popular in the German language; they couldn’t pretend there had never been such a poem. So the Nazis left it in the anthology, but substituted ‘Unbekannt’ — ‘Unknown’ — for the author’s name.

It would be tendentious to draw a general conclusion from these three incidents, so I will:

Oh. Oh dear. I find I simply cannot find a way to express this. (Good Lord, Simon at a loss for words? Whatever next?) I’ll have to put this on a mental back burner and see if it cooks. For now I’ll just say that it’s philistine and reactionary to expunge an author’s name from his works.


Oh yes: today’s ‘Word the English Language could do without’ is Closure.

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