From Publishing Perspectives:
For some time, the United States book market has stood as the de facto capital of the world’s far-right efforts in literary censorship.
A new government-imposed limitation on sales of a novel for young readers in France, however, is drawing stark criticism as censorship: Support for Manu Causse’s Bien trop petit (Far Too Small) from Éditions Thierry Magnier now includes the full-throated backing of the powerful French publishers’ association, the Syndicat national de l’édition (SNE).
The SNE has issued a particularly forthright demand for a review of a 74-year-old law used by the French national government to limit sales of a single children’s book.
The association writes in a terse statement delivered today to the international press corps, “The National Publishing Union (SNE) recalls its unwavering attachment to the principles of freedom of creation and publication, in compliance with the legal provisions intended to protect minors.
“Taking note of the decree of July 17, 2023, prohibiting the sale to minors of Manu Causse’s work Far Too Small published by Éditions Thierry Magnier—taken in accordance with the law of July 16, 1949, revised in 2011—the SNE requests that [there be] carried out an evaluation of the system for the protection of minors established by this law. The SNE questions the consistency and effectiveness of the rules defined almost 75 years ago when the main current vectors of exposure of minors to the content covered by the law did not exist.”
Not only is this case clearly defined and—thanks to the SNE—now very high-profile, but its content lies in areas that society isn’t always comfortable discussing, even in the name of free expression: young male sexuality.
This makes it, of course, of particular value as an instance in which publishing can test its own critical allegiance to producing its best work and resisting self-censorship.
The author Manu Causse’s Bien trop petit was published in September as part of a series, Éditions Thierry Magnier’s Collection L’Ardeur.
In the publisher’s descriptive copy about the book, accompanying an audio sample from the novel, Éditions Thierry Magnier writes:
“A novel full of humor that explores the complexity of adolescence and a tribute to the powers of the imagination in the construction of our sexualities.
“Grégoire has a small penis. If he had never really realized it, after the derogatory comments of his comrades at the swimming pool, he is forced to face the facts. He’s convinced that his love and sexual life is now over before it even started because of this insurmountable flaw.
“His immediate solution to cope with his frustration: take refuge in his fan fiction. He has been writing for a long time the adventures of the brave Max Égrogire and his sidekick, the beautiful Chloé Rembrandt. But this time, his story will take an unexpected turn since Grégoire writes an erotic passage for the first time. And among his readers, one person will challenge him: Kika encourages him, jostles him a little, and pushes him to go farther.
“From message to message, Grégoire delivers the sequel to Chloé Rembrandt’s erotic adventures to Kika. Through their exchanges, he explores his own fantasies and can’t believe he can share them with someone. Perhaps excitement and desire can go through many other things than bodily contact?”
According to French press accounts, the publisher wasn’t aware until July 18 that France’s interior ministry had issued a decree on the book, which is said to have had an initial print run of 2,500 copies with sales of some 500. Apparently, however, the book had been reported by the Commission for the Supervision and Control of Publications for Youth to the interior ministry in January.
Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives
PG wonders why censorship is so often connected with the far right, especially when woke censorship and trigger warnings, the most common species of censorship in the US at present, are most certainly far-left.