GEORGE ORWELL died in 1950. He had become famous with the publication of Animal Farm in 1945, and much more famous with the publication Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1949. But he was too ill to enjoy his fame, and he died of tuberculosis at the age of 46. Since then, he has grown steadily more and more famous, and after becoming a classic in his own life he has now become a name known by virtually everyone who reads at all. Almost all his books have been continually reprinted, and most of his shorter writings have also been conveniently reprinted in the four-volume Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters. Of all modern writers, in fact, he is one of the easiest to get hold of; he is also one of the easiest to get to grips with, for all his work has a style and structure which are so spare and simple and a personality and purpose which are so peculiar and powerful that introduction and explanation are virtually unnecessary. In a way, then, there is no need to read about Orwell at all, only to read Orwell; but this hasn’t stopped many people writing about him.
Article paru dans Workers Hammer, No 106, April 1989, p. 1-3
Salman Rushdie wrote The Satanic Verses for the Asian population of Britain. It is a scathing indictment of that experience in Mrs Torture’s nasty, racist society. It does not alibi, either, the hideous oppression in those societies from which the Asian immigrants came – products of British colonial rule and the Zias, Gandhis and the rest who then took over. A work of secular humanism, The Satanic Verses is not only anti-racist but also anti-sexist, unsparing in its criticism of the barbaric treatment of women under orthodox Hinduism and fundamentalist Islam. Rushdie is irreligious in a profound way, and thus has earned denunciation from all the forces of bourgeois/clerical reaction – not only the imams, but the Archbishop of Canterbury, the pope, the French cardinal Decourtray have denounced this « blasphemy ». Meanwhile, the race-hating fascistic scum moved in on the backlash afforded by the Muslim fundamentalist book burners to step up attacks on Asians: National Front graffiti daubed on shops and homes now add an obscenely incongruous slogan for these race-hate terrorists: « Leave Rushdie in peace ».
Article paru dans Workers Hammer, No 105, March 1989, p. 12-9
CENSORSHIP BY ASSASSINATION
When Ayatollah Khomeini issued his decree of death against novelist Salman Rushdie and the Viking/Penguin publishers of his Satanic Verses, a shudder spread around the world. Here was the ultimate statement of theocratic totalitarianism: not only must the book be banned, but its author executed for the « crime » of having written it. It was a throwback to the days when heretics were burned at the stake and witches boiled in oil. Suddenly the dark past of the Inquisition was no further than the local shopping centre. There it was, the benighted superstition of the Middle Ages in the middle of the Computer Age.
Article paru dans Workers Hammer, No 104, February 1989, p. 1-9
On 14 January, 1500 Muslim fanatics gathered in front of the town hall in Bradford, West Yorkshire and burnt copies of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. It grotesquely recalled the medieval Christian inquisition and book-burning orgies of Hitler’s stormtroopers. Confirming the controversial novel’s characterisation of the fundamentalist motto « Burn the books and trust the Book », the protesters accused Rushdie’s latest book of blasphemy. Leading them all was an unholy alliance of Bradford’s Council of Mosques and prominent Labour Party councillors, including ex-mayor Mohammed Ajeeb. One book-burner vowed, « Our next move will be to ensure the book is banned in the whole world. If he [Rushdie] comes here, I tell you he will be dead » (Independent, 21 January). Another demonstration in London two weeks later brought out large numbers of Muslims – reportedly overwhelmingly male – to protest the book. This frenzy of Islamic fundamentalism could provoke a wider racist backlash engulfing fundamentalist and secular minorities alike. Down with religious obscurantism! Let Satanic Verses be read!