Quote about Censorship

I divide all works of world literature into two categories, the permitted ones and those that were written without permission. The former are despicable, and the latter are a stolen breath of air. The writers who write what’s permitted – I want to spit them in the face and hit them over the head with a stick. . . They shouldn’t get married and have children because children have to continue our most important stories but how can they when their parents have sold their souls to the pockmarked devil for three generations ahead?

Osip Mandelshtam, The Fourth Prose

“The pockmarked devil” is Stalin. “Permitted literature” refers to Soviet censorship. In the USSR, censorship didn’t mean that there were things you couldn’t read, say or think. It was much worse. There were things you were required to read, say and think. Writers existed to arrange these permitted ideas on a page in slightly different ways.

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