Friday, March 18, 2011



         I’ve been brooding at odd moments on the letter I posted in which an editor smugly asked, “Is this censorship? Perhaps.” This was as he rejected the commissioned essay, “The Reviewing of Scholarly Editions” because it was critical of Fredson Bowers (and, he said, of Tanselle). That, of course, was  censorship, no question about it. But I’ve been thinking of other situations where critics have silenced me much more deftly. 

I intend to print in this blog a Series like the “Irresponsible Reviewers Series.” To test my instincts, I went to Google and typed “Censorship by any other name” . . . . I am happy to tell you that Mark Albertson knows how to complete that test: “Censorship by any other name is censorship.” Robert Butche passes the test also: “Censorship by any other name remains censorship.”

Here Mary Ann Shaw has made my case for me, being one who also knows censorship when she sees it. This is a footnote from my “The Auteur-Author Paradox: How Critics of the Cinema and the Novel Talk about Flawed or Even ‘Mutilated’ Texts,” Studies in the Novel, 27 (Fall, 1995):

Pizer's campaign against the restored Red Badge of Courage has been unremitting, beginning with "'The Red Badge of Courage Nobody Knows': A Brief Rejoinder," Studies in the Novel 11 (1979): 77-81, which evoked a response by Henry Binder, "Donald Pizer, Ripley Hitchcock, and The Red Badge of Courage," Studies in the Novel 11 (1979): 216-23. Recently Pizer has used a collection of criticism in his campaign, the Critical Essays on Stephen Crane's "The Red Badge of Courage" (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1990), where a commissioned essay by James Colvert, "Crane, Hitchcock, and the Binder Edition of The Red Badge of Courage" (pp. 238-63) was wholly devoted to attacking the restored text.

In a review of Pizer's collection in Studies in the Novel 23 (1991), Mary Ann Shaw protested: "one wishes fair representation had been allowed in support of the 'original and uncut' version of the manuscript by its leading proponents, Hershel Parker and his former student Henry Binder" (p. 400). ln American Literary Realism 1870-1910 25 (1993): pp. 88-89, Eric Solomon glanced at the "full-blown, if gentlemanly, demolition" of the reconstructed Red Badge of Courage by James Colvert, then protested: "In my opinion, then, Donald Pizer, while hinting at this volume's method in his introduction, has missed full disclosure. The book is in many ways a response to the 1986 New Essays on "The Red Badge of Courage", edited by Lee Clark Mitchell, which not only reflects post-structural critical concerns but also employs the Binder text, thus doubly offending Donald Pizer's stance. While selecting fine essays, Pizer also makes certain that many of them lead to his own and Colvert's conclusion regarding texts; the more enigmatic is the answer to what Henry Fleming learns about himself and his world, the more appropriate is the shortened text that tends to leave questions unanswered - and the more plausible are Donald Pizer's own arguments. Fine. But I would have appreciated either a straightforward (no irony or pun this time) explanation of editorial process early on or an inclusion of some words by Binder or Parker on the textual matter - other than those quoted by Colvert" (p. 89).

Precisely, Mary Ann Shaw, precisely, Eric Solomon! This sort of silencing is what the series “Censorship by Any Other Name” will expose. Even I may be surprised at how long the series will go on, especially if I tell the true story of a challenge by one of the silencers to retreat to a Toronto hotel room and strip to the waist, at least, and discuss the issues.

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