What's in a name? Quite a lot, according to one of my publisher's website (Random House US). I suppose it is funny but, last year, when I tried to answer a question about novelists that inspired me, I found my mention of Charles Dickens and Fanny Burney censored to Charles ****ens and ***** Burney. I hope Blogger can cope with my obscenity. Spare a thought for a guy called Dick Cockfoster or a girl blessed with the name Frances (commonly known as Fanny) Titmouse. I imagine their emails get put straight into spam.
To be fair to Random, I should point out this entry was made on a site for teen readers so the duty of care is higher for the owner, but still, our modern censorship does seem to be overly strong in all the wrong areas. We are very lax elsewhere. As the women's groups appearing before the Leveson Enquiry on 24th January pointed out, we live in a society which thinks it is OK to feature naked women in papers at child-eye level and put rape victims on trial in the way their stories are reported. I wouldn't mind a bit of blanking out of that but wouldn't it be so much better if editors realised that it is sick to do so?
Everyday I come across the problem of modern censorship in writing historical fiction. Let's start with self-censorship. We are not all going to agree, of course, on the depiction of sex and levels of violence and language when writing for a younger audience. My own personal guide is a connection to the parallel world of cinema certification. Would this be OK in a PG-13 (UK 12A) film or does it deserve a higher rating? It does not stop me writing a no holds barred piece if I wished but I wouldn't put it on the teen or children's market.
|German edition of The Other Countess|
- I wonder how they translated the rude words?
I would be very interested to hear what censorship my fellow writers have experienced and what you, as a reader, think about all this. It reveals our own period's manners and mores more acutely than perhaps any other subject, does it not?
P.S. I hope I haven't offended you...