In This Review

The Velvet Prison: Artists Under State Socialism
The Velvet Prison: Artists Under State Socialism
By Miklós Haraszti
Basic Books/New Republic Books, 1987, 162 pp.

In the softer form of communism well represented by contemporary Hungary, writers and artists are not repressed, constrained and censored in the traditional style of a totalitarian dictatorship-they are coopted and given a stake in the prevailing state culture. The censorship largely becomes self-censorship; censors and artists are entangled in a mutual embrace. Haraszti, a dissident sociologist and poet who still lives and writes in Hungary but has clung fiercely to his creative freedom, gives us a number of variations on this theme in a brilliant essay which was first published in France (1983) and has circulated underground, in the Hungarian original, in Hungary itself.