“This is not our literature”. Censorship of Czech fiction under normalization Cover Image

“This is not our literature”. Censorship of Czech fiction under normalization

Author(s): Petr Šámal
Subject(s): Language and Literature Studies, Studies of Literature, Czech Literature
Published by: Uniwersytet Opolski
Keywords: literary censorship; Czechoslovakia; normalization; sexuality; comics; anti-utopia; experimental literature

Summary/Abstract: This study focuses on literary censorship in Czechoslovakia during the 1970s and 1980s, observing the types of literature that were suppressed or marginalized under normalization. In methodological terms it is based on the theory of literary communication, some new censorship ideas and their critical revision by the German English scholar Beate Müller. The introductory section presents a characterization of the Soviet-style censorship system, which the author describes as a “dispersed” censorship system, i.e. a multi-level supervision and regulation system, with approval at the state, government and corporate levels, while the supreme ideological and arbitration authority rested permanently with the Communist Party Central Committee, the management and planning centred around the Ministry in charge and the third mainstay of supervision over books was the approvals procedure at individual publishers' based on “readership procedures”. Only between 1953 amd 1968 was there also a bureau specializing in preliminary censorship (the Central Press Supervision Authority); however, its functions were basically just regulatory, as it primarily acted as a check against potential breakdowns in other components of the dispersed censorship system. The second part of the paper presents the main types of literature that were suppressed by censorship. It points out the particular prudishness of normalization censorship, the suppression of vulgarisms, expressivity and sexuality. Another marginalized area was that of literary experimentation, comics and the anti-utopia genre.

  • Issue Year: 19/2015
  • Issue No: 2
  • Page Range: 115-125
  • Page Count: 11
  • Language: Polish