Has the “cancel culture” trend peaked, or will it continue in 2024?
With Shakespeare increasingly in disfavor among some elite precincts of academia and popular authors like Roald Dahl and Ian Fleming posthumously having their classic fiction bowdlerized and edited to be politically correct, what artists and authors will be next?
Will 2024 deepen disturbing trends undermining artistic freedom and other civil and economic liberties? Or will a new year bring fresh hope for civility, voluntarism, tolerance and respect for other people’s rights?
Such questions continue to linger in the back of my mind as I recall some of my favorite posts in 2023 on the Prometheus Blog.
Although it’s now the start of 2024, it’s not too late to look back again at the past year to savor (and perhaps reread) a few especially timely and relevant favorites from the blog – beyond the three already highlighted last week.
They keep coming to cancel or censor more fiction and more classics of literature. Now, disturbingly, it’s Roald Dahl’s turn.
The re-editing, rewording and outright expungement of now-disfavored wording in the delightfully subversive and amusing children’s books by the late great British writer, who died in 1990 at 74, are just the latest example of efforts to suppress or censor literature.
But the “they,” this time, doesn’t refer only to government agencies, bureaucrats and woke cultists eager to shove more politically incorrect stories and thoughts down Orwell’s proverbial memory hole.
This time, ironically but unsurprisingly, “they” includes Dahl’s British publisher Puffin and the Dahl estate, eagerly colluding to publish bowdlerized versions of his books to avoid “triggering” anyone.
Ray Bradbury, a soulful romantic and ardent lover of American civil liberties, was one of the most celebrated American writers of the 20th century.
Perhaps best known for his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451, one of the earliest and most deserving works inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame, and the many film and TV versions of his stories and novels, Bradbury continues to rank high in the pantheon of the greatest short-story writers and leading golden-age sci-fi/fantasy authors.
Yet, how long might his well-deserved reputation as a storyteller last amid the dismaying anti-liberal and authoritarian worldwide trends of the early 21st century?
A just-published essay in The Spectator, a British weekly magazine on politics, culture and current affairs, asks that worrisome question – while also making a powerful case for Bradbury as an enduring writer and champion of liberty.