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Legal investigations concerning Turkish translation of William Burroughs’ novel ‘The Soft Machine’
Legal investigations concerning Turkish translation of William Burroughs’ novel ‘The Soft Machine’
25 May, 2011
Tags: Turkey

The office of the Attorney General of Istanbul recently started legal investigations concerning Yumuşak Makine (http://www NULL.selyayincilik NULL.com/kitaptanitim NULL.asp?kod=697), the translation of William Burroughs’ novel The Soft Machine, translated into Turkish by Mr. Süha Sertabiboğlu, and published by publishing house Sel in Istanbul.

Notwithstanding the literary acknowledgement William Burroughs has received all over the world, the Prime Minister’s Council for the Protection of Children from Harmful Publications decided in a report, issued on the request of Istanbul’s Attorney General, that The Soft Machine had no literary value. Subsequently, the Attorney General announced that it would bring charges against Sel Publishers and the translator Süha Sertabiboğlu, on the accusation of publishing / translating a book that is considered to be obscene.

In 2010 Turkey witnessed a court case against a publishing house and a translator on similar grounds. Charges involved three books: Perinin Sarkacı by the Turkish author Ben Mila, Genç bir Don Juan’ın Maceraları (‘Les exploits d’un jeune Don Juan’) by Guillaume Apollinaire, and Görgülü ve Bilgili bir Burjuva Kadının Mektupları (‘Correspondance d’une Bourgeoise Avertie’) by P.V. In spite of an expert opinion which explicitly stated that these books were literary works and hence couldn’t be considered obscene, the books were passed on to the Council for the Protection of Children. Both the publisher of these books, İrfan Sancı from publishing house Sel and translator İsmail Yerguz were brought before the court. In the third court hearing, in December 2010, the publisher and the translator were acquitted of all charges.

The Turkish Association of Translators Çevbir published an English press release (http://cevbir NULL.org/) to protest against Turkish legislation which forces restrictions on art, literature, a free press and the profession of translators.

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