Saturday 25 January 2020

Putting pen above parapet

Madam -- Gene Kerrigan mentions the history of censorship in this country as applied to its great writers (among others).

And later he says: "Write about certain people with deep pockets and you risk being hit with legal actions left dangling for years -- with the expected chilling effect."

The irony is that he does not say that it is just those people who could stop great writers, even today, at least sometimes. The thing to remember is that if it were written today, Ulysses would still be a banned book in Ireland (even if it got published elsewhere), assuming the real-life versions of its characters were actually alive.

Buck Mulligan was based on Oliver St John Gogarty, for instance, but whether he would be first to go to law is a separate question.

But there are lots more potential litigants in that book and indeed the most dangerous to the author could be someone who insists to the courts they do appear in the book.

However much the author would deny that his character was the person now suing him, the courts might well side with the aggrieved.

In fact, the hilarious thing is that if Gogarty were alive now, in theory he could sue both me and this newspaper for the outrageous suggestion that he was 'litigious', despite the facts that a) I specifically suggested otherwise; and b) his suing me would indeed prove his litigiousness (to real people anyway).

Frank Desmond

Cork City

Sunday Independent

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