Indispensable faculty in those who would produce great art

Joyce’s Ulysses on one of the shelves of the personal library of Theodore Dalrymple, Ardèche, 2017

Dalrymple points out that self-censorship

does not at the moment enjoy a very happy reputation. It is associated in our minds with an avoidance—a cowardly or dishonest avoidance—of difficult or dangerous subjects: the intellectual nullity of contemporary Islam, for example, or the nature of transsexualism.

However, he argues that the faculty of self-censorship is

indispensable in those who would produce great art.

It is the sense

not merely of what should be left out, but of what should not be said.

Without self-censorship, we enter

an arms race of vulgar sensationalism.

El Greco, El expolio, 1577-79, sacristy of Toledo Cathedral

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