Chimamanda Adichie Talks On Influence Of Self Censorship On Literature
In a recent lecture on freedom of speech, Chimamanda Adichie raised concerns about self-censorship. The acclaimed writer said that young people are growing up “afraid to ask questions for fear of asking the wrong questions”.
She opined that such an environment can lead to what she describes as”the death of curiosity, the death of learning and the death of creativity.”
She continued, “No human endeavour requires freedom as much as creativity does.”
Adichie, whose books include Half Of A Yellow Sun and Americanah, gave the first of four Reith Lectures for Radio 4 this year, all of which focused on issues of freedom.
She asserted that The Satanic Verses, a contentious book by Sir Salman Rushdie, would “probably not” be published today, contrary to what he had stated in 2012.
Sir Salman was assaulted on stage at a literary event earlier this year. He sustained liver damage, had nerves in an arm severed, and lost vision in one eye.
Salman’s fourth novel The Satanic Verses has resulted in death threats from Iran in 1980 because some Muslims regard the book as blasphemous.
To this, she questioned, “Would Rushdie’s novel be published today? Probably not. Would it even be written? Possibly not.”
According to her, readers are increasingly viewing literature “through ideological rather than artistic lenses.”
“Nothing demonstrates this better than the recent phenomenon of ‘sensitivity readers’ in the world of publishing, people whose job it is to cleanse unpublished manuscripts of potentially offensive words. This, in my mind, negates the very idea of literature.”
She explained that if any of the works that had “formed and inspired and consoled” her had been suppressed, she could have been “lost.”
The 45-year-old also voiced worry about some people holding down their opinions out of fear of being attacked harshly or becoming the latest victim of cancel culture.