Category Archives: prison

Russia, free librarian Natalya Sharina

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Natalya Sharina, director of the Library of Ukrainian Literature in Moscow, was arrested in October after police raided her workplace and home looking for ‘extremist literature’.

After they allegedly found work by a banned writer, Natalya was forced to spend two nights in a prison cell and now faces up to five years in jail – simply for exercising her right to freedom of expression.

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from Amnesty International

sign petition here:

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions/russia-free-librarian-natalya-sharina?utm_source=FBPAGE&utm_medium=Social&utm_content=20151215173100&utm_campaign=Freedom_of_expression

 

 

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How Bunbury became

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One of Aleister Crowley´s less curious friends came by that day. If I am not mistaken it was a young Louis Umfreville Wilkinson, but maybe he came after Reading Gaol.  Memory is such a sly thing and too often it plays tricks on the old.

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Well this young gentleman approached us for help. A dismal Saturday morning it was too. His umbrella safely stowed, he enquired after a lesser strain of Alibi often called Habili due to its  popularity in Middle Eastern lands. It was to be for a certain famed individual.

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We were not unduly taken aback, it was quite normal for a friend to act as a representative or intermediary and making such an approach on behalf of a public figure. And Oscar was already enormously well known.

 

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It seemed that Mr Wilde was possessed of the need to make a trip to Sunbury to meet a scholar from Banbury, to whose poetry he had grown quite affectionate.  The meeting with the scholar, it transpired, was to be kept, be any means necessary, from the public eye.

The reason for the secrecy was not revealed.

I can´t imagine…

 

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Nothing could have been easier.  It took no time to invent an effective Habili tailor made to Oscar´s circumstances.

 

 

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We gave him details of a very elderly, very frail relative.  To this sketch, a few minutiae were added whose particulars could be checked out to the satisfaction of any keen journalist, private investigator or any such prying eyes.  And we gave this infirm relative the name Bunbury.

 

 

Bunbury was born!

 

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And so the young gentleman left satisfied that all could handled in a tidy fashion, but such was his haste that he forgot his umbrella. A sad state of affairs given the climate of this city.

 

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Oscar took the whole thing very seriously,  using the alibi on numerous occasions and even once spoiling us with an impromtu visit in persona.

 

 

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It was such meticulousness on Oscar´s part that led us to give the whole affair the codename Earnest, .  Although the alibi was subsequently used by a notable series of Uranists, it should be appreciated that Codename Earnest was infact employed by individuals of all tastes including, notoriously, a leading politician of the day.

 

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Unfortunately,  this alibi -echo gave rise to Oscar´s long standing dispute with ourselves and his subsequent reticence in consulting our archives during his appallingly misconceived libel case and mishandled trial.

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A reluctance which without doubt led to his encarcelation. Criminal!

 

 

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Still got the umbrella somewhere hereabouts.

Guide to fictional Libraries #15 Almost Fiction: Grayling’s Prison Libraries

Voices for the Library reports that Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, plans to restrict prisoners’ access to books and prison library services as part of changes to the punishment and reward system.

39624369_97a3f4a515The move reinforces the idea of a prison system that is merely punitive rather than playing a rehabilitative role, preparing many citizens for reinsertion.

travels-of-marco-poloAccess to books and reading extends opportunities for social participation, encourages reflection and helps develop a sense of social responsibility. It expands our ability to think about alternatives and evaluate our options, which for some may lead to strategies for avoiding criminal behaviour.

images“Prisoners see themselves differently; they gain confidence and self-esteem. They talk about having hope for the future, often for the first time. They feel able to envisage a different future and develop new aspirations for themselves.” (Prisoners Education Trust 2008, p.2)

index1Furthermore where would some of our greatest literary works and writers be without access to paper, pen and reading material? To list but a few books at least partly written in while in prison:

The Travels of Marco Polo

Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes

A Hymn to the Pillory, Daniel Defoe

De Profundis, Oscar Wilde

Our Lady of Flowers, Jean Genet

Justine, Marquis de Sade

portrait-of-sir-walter-raleigh-1554-1618-title-page-from-the-historie-of-the-world-by-sir-walter-raleighThomas Malory, Richard Lovelace, Walter Rayleigh, Chidiock Tichborne, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jack London,      Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela…screen-shot-2012-06-10-at-09-39-22(Oh and Mein Kampf by a certain Adolf somebody or other, but that doesn’t really serve my point so…)

Read more about this at:

http://www.voicesforthelibrary.org.uk/2014/03/grayling-ban-on-books-oin-prison/