Haraszti, Miklós. The Aesthetics of Censorship [aka The Velvet Prison], 1986. Book
Miklós Haraszti's Aesthetics of Censorship was one of the most famous samizdat publications in the 1980s, and this was for a reason: the pamphlet was the first attempt to understand censorship under state socialism in its full complexity, and it was also an open and radical critique of state censorship. This 1986 edition by AB Független samizdat press, the cover of which was designed by László Rajk, was not the first. It appeared originally in 1981, but copies from that print are rare and more difficult to access. Many knew Haraszti's work only from the poet György Petri's and the historian Gábor Klaniczay's critical essays, which were printed in the samizdat journal Beszélő in 1982. The book had a great international career. It was published in French as L'Artist d'Etat by Fayard in Paris in 1983, and it was translated into German and published by Rotbuch Publishing House in West Berlin as Der Staatkünstler in 1984. Three years later, an English edition was published with a preface by György Konrád in New York (Basic Books). The English edition, entitled The Velvet Prison: Artists Under State Socialism, was released in four consecutive editions in three years. It won praise from many prominent figures, including Josef Škvorecký in the TLS.
Haraszti started to develop his ideas about a "new civilisation" in the mid-1970s, when he realized that the Kádár regime had successfully consolidated its rule in the two decades following the 1956 revolution. His concepts were influenced by György Konrád and Iván Szelényi's famous book, Intellectuals on the Road to Class Power (Hungarian emigré ed. 1978; Hungarian samizdat ed. 1985; English ed. 1979), which was circulated in typed copies from 1974. One of its central claim was that intellectuals accommodated to the system and its logic, including intellectuals who were in opposition. Haraszti finished his manuscript in August 1980, and by December it was on the underground book market. No doubt, besides its wit and depth, the emergence of the Solidarity movement and its oppression contributed to its international success.
After the change of regimes, the book was published legally in 1991, and, interestingly, a Hong Kong edition raised interest among Chinese students in the the first decade of the new millennium.
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- Scheibner, Tamás
Nóvé, Béla. "Cenzúraviták a 80-as évek Magyarországán 1." Kritika 40, no. 3 (March 2011), 10-13.