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Russia bans “decadent” literature?

Updated on May 6, 2012

Recently I’ve stumbled upon a news article which says how Russian government has again banned books like Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”, Hunter Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and many books by Baudelaire, just to name a few. They were all taken from many bookstores and the government expects nobody to buy or to even read them again.

The reason for this is simple: these books promote use of drugs, as the government sees it. In Huxley’s book, there is a drug called soma which people use to be happier, and Thomspon’s book is full of notorious misuse of all drugs that were available at the moment. But those books have something more in them. Those who criticize this act of government say that drugs in these books are just a metaphor. For example, the name of the drug soma originates from Indian text Rigveda, and Huxley’s novel is primarily about dystopian societies, it somehow warns people of the impossibility of utopia. Hunter Thompson’s novel is really full of drugs, so is the movie, but it has a point in criticizing them, both with the failed hippie movement. They also ask some deep questions about the human existence.

American people praise free speech and all kinds of freedom and that’s why it is good to live in America. Almost nothing will be banned, at least classics will not. Russia is in transition and it has outlawed homosexuality, emos, and now decadent writers. This might be more a topic for discussion among fellow hubbers, because I am well aware that neither I nor you have any power to change anything. As writers, my fellow hubbers might know what does it take to be a writer, what does a metaphor mean, what is the goal of a literary work. The goal is not to drag young people into drugs, it is to expand minds because that matters the most to an artist. I have personally adored Charles Baudelaire during high school and never engaged into drug abuse but I understood his point. While there are people from my generation who have never read or liked Baudelaire and that are real junkies now, they use drugs every day, some are even dead. You should always try to penetrate deeper into the meaning. The metaphors and events which you see in the book are all written from the writer’s experience, and if he has experience with drugs what else can he write about? If someone does not have it, he will write about other stuff but with equally deep point. So, you see: their government will ban made-up some while their youth drowns in deadly “crocodile” bought from their most powerful tycoons and drug dealers!

Why does it bother me? Well, firstly, all kinds of censorships bother me, and I really do not know what is Russia trying to do with all those censuring, you might think that it wants to build a completely healthy country in which there are no gays, no emos, all pedophiles are castrated, and we all read some kind of neo-soc-realistic literature. You might think that their government desires that nothing should stand on their way of creating a healthy nation, maybe even the new generation of Russian supersoldiers. Who knows? The politics is always questionable but nothing we can know for certain. Nazi Germany tried to ban smoking and then those German soldiers who were craving for tobacco were sucking it out of the shoes of Allies. I cannot say that I remember it vividly how it was, but I can just assume. It is human nature, you cannot fight that. Censorship does not do well to anybody except to some high state officials, and since today there are elections in Serbia and there is a danger for my country to become a pawn of Russia (depending on the election results and later events), banishment of any kinds of writers does not sound good to me. But the reasoning of those people who want to banish decadent writers is funny, so it reminds me of one Bill Hick’s show where he talked about war on drugs in America.


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    • Gentle Fist profile imageAUTHOR

      Gentle Fist 

      6 years ago from Serbia

      I always like to hear some first-hand information and since you say you've been talking with your relatives in Moscow I surely can trust what you say :) Yes, a thing is a little bit funny but it was in the news and I was thinking to use it for discussion, about writers censorship as a broader topic. Thanks very much for noticing "We", I always like to hear about new books and I have never before heard about this one! But I am still not sure about where Russia is heading with censorship... Thanks for commenting!

    • CHRIS57 profile image


      6 years ago from Northern Germany

      May i propose to be a little more suspicious if publishing news of this kind. I tried to verify the contents but always ended up in a doubious chechen newspage, a newspage that also covers success statistics of the djihad.

      I talked to relatives in Moscow and received nothing but a good laugh about this "news". So the question mark in your headline is very well placed :-)

      If it comes to dystopian literature then Russia would first have to turn to Yevgeny Zamyatin, a home brew so to say. His "We" from 1921 is the father novel for all Huxleys and Orwells to come.

      I am quite certain, in Russia of now a days you won´t find more banning and challenging of books than lets say in the US.


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