Sense and Censorship:
Commentaries on Censorship Violence in Australia

Michael Pollak

Reed Books 1990
A book review by Danny Yee © 1996
Sense and Censorship is a collection of twelve "lives" of prominent figures in the fight against censorship in Australia. They include poets (Charles Harpur, Dorothy Hewett), novelists (Miles Franklin, Norman Lindsay, Frank Hardy), journalists (Terry Hayes, Chris Masters, Brian Toohey), and editors (Edward Hall, J.F. Archibald, Henry Boote, Brian Penton). Some were themselves censored or constrained by defamation and libel actions, actual or threatened; some fought against government censorship. Pollak's lives are narrowly biographical in focus — there is no legal detail at all, for example, and only sketchy references to social history and changes in mores — but they do extend to cover figures other than the central subject, both allies and opponents. Pollak is perhaps at his best with the dramatic personal confrontations, such as Hall against Darling, Boote against Huges, and Penton against Calwell.

As the lives (arranged chronologically) make clear, and as Pollak stresses in his conclusion, the fight against censorship in Australia continues to this day, with some things almost unchanged in two hundred years. Sense and Censorship is not staid history but a vibrant survey of the Australian anti-censorship tradition.

May 1996

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%T Sense and Censorship
%S Commentaries on Censorship Violence in Australia
%A Pollak, Michael
%I Reed Books
%D 1990
%O hardcover, bibliography
%G ISBN 0730102696
%P 399pp