Best of the blog, Part 2: Was Shakespeare a libertarian? Has cancel culture peaked? And what was that crossword puzzle clue mentioning the LFS?

By Michael Grossberg

Was Shakespeare a libertarian?

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.

Continue reading Best of the blog, Part 2: Was Shakespeare a libertarian? Has cancel culture peaked? And what was that crossword puzzle clue mentioning the LFS?

Cultivating virtue, respecting liberty & remembering history: Author J. Daniel Sawyer on the “new censorship” and bowdlerization of Roald Dahl and James Bond

By Michael Grossberg

Censorship, suppression of literature and “bowdlerization” of our culture has a long, harmful and shameful history – and is anathema to libertarians, who favor full freedom of expression and artistic liberty.

The Prometheus blog has posted several articles recently about the disturbing recent spate of efforts to suppress or change the original wording and author’s intent of Roald Dahl in his children’s fantasy classics.

Similar suppression sadly has been reported about efforts to shove down the Orwellian memory hole some wording in the original editions of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels.

It’s even extended to the Goosebumps children’s horror-comedy series, many books of which were changed by the publisher without the knowledge or consent of the series’ still-living author R.L. Stine.

This is a troubling time for libertarians, classical liberals and all lovers of liberty and art – which is why it’s important to seek out, read and digest the best insights about the roots of this anti-authoritarian trend and how we might strive to better support both liberty and literature that reflects the intent of its creators.

Perhaps the most illuminating, historically aware and wisest commentary I’ve come across about this disturbing modern recurrence of bowdlerization was written recently by J. Daniel Sawyer as a guest post on the Substack blog of Holly Math Nerd.

Continue reading Cultivating virtue, respecting liberty & remembering history: Author J. Daniel Sawyer on the “new censorship” and bowdlerization of Roald Dahl and James Bond

British publisher backtracks, “saves” Roald Dahl’s uncut classics (but don’t breathe sighs of relief just yet)

By Michael Grossberg

Good news for lovers of liberty, culture and artistic integrity: Matilda, The Witches, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Roald Dahl’s other children’s classics will continue to be published and reprinted in their original uncensored forms.

That sudden and welcome reversal (see our previous blog post) is thanks to a remarkably wide range of principled and thoughtful responses from across the political spectrum objecting to the plans by the late great Dahl’s cowardly and conformist British publisher to bowdlerize his bestselling children’s classics in doctored reprints.

Continue reading British publisher backtracks, “saves” Roald Dahl’s uncut classics (but don’t breathe sighs of relief just yet)

‘Charlie’ canceled! ‘Matilda’ mutilated! ‘Peach’ sliced! Anti-authoritarian children’s book author Roald Dahl ‘bowdlerized,’ with his subversive words, outrageous characters changed, deleted in new editions

By Michael Grossberg

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.

Continue reading ‘Charlie’ canceled! ‘Matilda’ mutilated! ‘Peach’ sliced! Anti-authoritarian children’s book author Roald Dahl ‘bowdlerized,’ with his subversive words, outrageous characters changed, deleted in new editions

Freedom and free will in a dystopian welfare-state: Anthony Burgess’ darkly humorous A Clockwork Orange, the 2008 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ impressive and diverse four-decade track record, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of all of our award-winners. Here’s an Appreciation for Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, the 2008 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.:

“When a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man.” – Anthony Burgess

By Michael Grossberg

A Clockwork Orange may not be remembered or read as widely today as some other dystopian novels, but it arguably ranks among the best-written, most shocking and most plausible works of that seminal 20th century genre.

Today, British writer Anthony Burgess’ 1962 novel is far better known from director Stanley Kubrick’s vivid 1971 film. Yet, the nightmarish novel rightly was included on Time magazine’s 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923.

Even if you’re a fan of the controversial film version (as I am), Burgess’ novel is well worth reading for its own sake – especially for its imaginative style, dark humor, inventive slang language, and insightful portrait of a disturbing future in a culture corrupted by a bloated and obtrusive welfare state.

Continue reading Freedom and free will in a dystopian welfare-state: Anthony Burgess’ darkly humorous A Clockwork Orange, the 2008 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner