The deadly valentine

December 4, 2008 at 6:15 pm (anti-fascism, assassination, immigration, literature, Max Dunbar, reaction, religion)


It’s been twenty years since the open bounty on Salman Rushdie and Bernard Henri-Levy (via Kammo) has an eloquent essay in Index on Censorship.

The truth is that a world where we no longer have the right to laugh at dogma would be an impoverished world. The truth is that a world where we are not permitted to write fiction on any and every subject would be a much sadder place where whole areas of freedom will cave in. Dark times. The darkening of the spirit. The spirit of the times.

I’ve just finished volume 3 of The Paris Review Interviews in which Rushdie talks about the initial reaction to the contract.

The most extended thing I’ve ever written about England is The Satanic Verses, which no one thinks of as a novel about England, but is actually, in large part, a novel about London. It’s about the life of immigrants in Thatcherite London… in 1989 there was a widespread tabloid belief that I was this troublemaker who had to be saved from his own kind by a government he’d opposed – the Thatcher government. And then when I decided to make a life for myself in New York, that proved my ingratitude. As if, in order to be grateful, I had to live in London for the rest of my life.


  1. Sue R said,

    He does come across as an ingrate. Any guy who’s been married as many times as he has, has to have something wrong with him.

  2. Mark Sist said,

    Anybody who links to Oliver “hedge fund vermin” Kamm is almost certainly a fucking prick.

    “Kammo” – beneath contempt.

  3. maxdunbar said,

    Sue, if marriage is so great people should get married as often as they can.

    Mark, you should hear what Kamm says about you.

  4. Voltaire's Priest said,

    Sist, do you ever do anything but write pantomimish, faux-angry bollocks? Just asking,

  5. KB Player said,

    “Sue, if marriage is so great people should get married as often as they can. ”

    That’s what Bertrand Russell used to say – “I’m an expert on marriage. I’ve been married four times.”

    VP – Cyst comes over here to work on new material for his “blogging as performance art”. Dunno why he does – he’s got a nice, big, rehearsal space all of his own, with very few interruptions from commenters. His material is not that new either, but maybe he’s coming to the end of his present groove and is about to change styles.

  6. maxdunbar said,

    KB, I didn’t know Bertrand Russell said that.

    Blogging as performance art – hahaha! You’re our funniest commentor (that is, in intentional humour).

  7. KB Player said,

    Max – it wasn’t me that came up with that description of Cyst’s ranting. Cyst, under his stage name, said that of his own oeuvre.

  8. Voltaire's Priest said,

    “Art” is it? Well I suppose there was that piece where Chris Offili stuck elephant crap to a canvas…

  9. KB Player said,

    “Elephant crap” is a bit exotic and grandiose for a comparison. Mouse crap is a better analogy.

    On topic, I try and pay tribute to Rushdie by reading The Satanic Verses, but I don’t get far. His prose is so overblown in that book. I’m reading Monica Ali’s Brick Lane at the moment, and that’s really terrific. She has you interested in the main character, Nazneen, from the beginning. The film was on the telly the other week but I thought that was a real plod.

  10. maxdunbar said,

    I couldn’t get into Brick Lane but maybe it’s worth ploughing through the first 200 pages.

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