Looking on Darkness

Date: 1974

Region: Africa

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion, Religious, Explicit Sexuality

Medium: Literature

Artist: Andre Brink (b. 1935)

Confronting Bodies: South African government

Date of Action: February 1974

Location: South Africa

Description of Artwork: Brink's novel Looking on Darkness is about a black actor who tells the story of his life from prison while awaiting execution for the murder of his white lover.

The Incident: The novel was said to have broken every taboo in apartheid striken South Africa. It contained the Immorality Act, 180-day detention, murder, torture, revolutionary violence, black power and censorship. The novel was the first written in Africaans to address race relations. It was banned on the grounds that it broke religious edicts with graphic sexual content juxtaposed with religious themes under the Publications and Entertainment Act in February 1974. The English version of the book was also banned in 1974.

Results of Incident: In 1981 the publications committee declared the work "not undesirable" and it was cleared from censor. However, Looking on Darkness was only available for readers 18-years of age and older.

Source: Censorship, A World Encyclopedia, ed. D. Jones