Civil Liberties

Keep Those Dirty Beatniks Out of Istanbul!

|

It must be 1966 in Turkey: They're putting a William Burroughs book on trial.

My grandfather invented the adding machine. This device is for subtraction.

The Istanbul Prosecutor's Office has opened an investigation into a book written by internationally renowned author William S. Burroughs. It was translated and published by Sel Publishing House in January.

The court referred to a report written by the Prime Ministry's Council for Protecting Minors from Explicit Publications that accused the novel, "The Soft Machine," of "incompliance with moral norms" and "hurting people's moral feelings."…The council also accused the novel of "lacking unity in its subject matter," "incompliance with narrative unity," for "using slang and colloquial terms" and "the application of a fragmented narrative style," while claiming that Burroughs's book contained unrealistic interpretations that were neither personal nor objective by giving examples from the lifestyles of historical and mythological figures. None of the above, argued the publishing house, constitutes a criminal act.

The council went further and said, "The book does not constitute a literary piece of work in its current condition," adding it would add nothing new to the reader's reservoir of knowledge, and argued the book developed "attitudes that were permissive to crime by concentrating on the banal, vulgar and weak attributes of humanity."

Since the council is devoted to "protecting minors," perhaps it could also weigh in on Burroughs' words of advice for young people.

Elsewhere in Reason: Burroughs is named a hero of freedom.