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Rushdie Talk on Censorship Wraps Up PEN Festival
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
The 2012 PEN World Voices Festival ended with a talk about censorship at the Cooper Union by novelist Salman Rushdie (Midnight's Children, The Satanic Verses).
After the speech, the PEN festival founder had a conversation with writer Gary Shteyngart (The Russian Debutante's Handbook, Super Sad True Love Story).
Peter Godwin, the president of PEN American Center, and Laszlo Jakab Orsos, PEN World Voices Director, introduced Rushdie before he gave the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture that traditionally wraps up the festival. Listen to and download Rushdie's 17-minute talk by clicking the audio link above.
Rushdie on censorship: "If writing is Thing, then censorship is No-Thing. And as King Lear told Cordelia, 'Nothing will come of nothing.' Think again. Censorship changes the subject. It introduces a more tedious subject and creates a more boring world."
Rushdie on liberty: "Liberty is the air we breathe...in a part of the world where, imperfect as the supply is, it is, nevertheless, freely available—at least to those of us who are not black youngsters wearing hoodies in Miami, and broadly breathable—unless, of course, we’re women in red states trying to make free choices about our own bodies."
Rushdie on originality: "Great art, or, let’s just say, more modestly, original art is never created in the safe middle ground, but always at the edge ... Originality is dangerous. It challenges, questions, overturns assumptions, unsettles moral codes, disrespects sacred cows or other such entities. It can be shocking, or ugly, or, to use that catch-all term so beloved of the tabloid press, controversial."
Watch a video of Rushdie speaking at the talk.