The Prime Ministerial Board for the Protection of Children from Harmful Publications demanded punishment for the book “The Soft Machine” because it does “not comply with the social morality”. Sel Publishing called this an “outrageous injustice done to a work of art”.
The Prime Ministerial Board for the Protection of Children from Harmful Publications demanded punishment for the book “The Soft Machine” written by US American writer William S. Burroughs and first published in 1961. The book, published in Turkey by the Sel Publishing Company, “does not comply with the social moral”, the board deplored.
The board was appointed in the context of an investigation into the contents of the novel launched by the Istanbul Public Chief Prosecution. “The Soft Machine” was translated by Süha Sertabiboğlu and published in Turkey in January 2011. The decision of the Board for the Protection of Children from Harmful Publications is based on several sentences and paragraphs of the book.
The Sel Publishing Company criticized the decision. “Eventually, this came true as well. The sublime judiciary of Turkey started to prosecute the moral of the Beat Generation”, the company announced. Sel Publishing demanded to drop procedures.
In the statement made to the Istanbul Public Chief Prosecution, the publishing house argued, “It is impossible to comprehend the insistence of imposing”children“rules to a book made for adults”. In this way, dozens of reports could be written on various media organs and thousands of books, the company said.
“Board lacks persons of letters”
The Prime Ministerial Board pointed to twenty different sentences and paragraphs of the 140-page book and came to the conclusion that the novel was “obscene”. The publishing house assessed the decision as an “outrageous injustice done to a work of art”.
Sel Publishing also criticized the structure and the function of the board, “This ’monstrous’ situation evolves when a board that does not include any person of letters, any aesthete, critic or interpreter sets out to investigate [a book]”.
“Not an official state board is the yardstick whether this is a work of literature and which impact it will have on the readers’ treasury. Only the reader of the book is able to measure that”.
“Findings are ignorant and ridiculous”
Sel Publishing underlined that Borroughs’ novel that was written in the cut-up and fold-in techniques was one of the significant works of the “Beat Generation”. “Not only does the board show ignorance, it also became ridiculous”, the company commented the board’s findings.
The Prime Ministerial Board claimed that “from the primitive life till today in the whole world and in every society the covering of the regions of sexual organs and the privacy of sexual intercourse became an indispensible rule”.
“The weight of the book was directed to sexuality. The novel does not comply with the moral structure of the society and it harmed the modesty and the shame of the people. It must be observed that it opposes the general morality”, the board continued.
Previous acquittal on “Sexual Books” series
Publisher İrfan Sancı and interpreter İsmail Yerguz were standing trial under allegations of “publishing obscenity” on the grounds of three books published within the “Sexual Books” series of Sel Publishing. They were acquitted in accordance with the report of the Prime Ministerial Board for the Protection of Children for Harmful Publications.
The board issued a report on the three works entitled “The exploits of a young Don Juan” by Guillaume Apollinaire, “Letters of a Well-Mannered and Knowledgeable Bourgeois Woman” by the French writer P.V. and Ben Mila’s “The Fairy’s Pendulum”. It read that the books feature literature and would not constitute the basis for a conviction. (EÇ/BB/VK)