To celebrate its fortieth anniversary, Index on Censorship has made all of its back issues freely available online. Writing in the current issue, editor Jo Glanville calls the archive “a literary treasure trove and also an historic document of the extremes of human behaviour – from man at his most inhumane to man at his most courageous”.
Samuel Beckett, Nadine Gordimer, Graham Greene, Anna Politkovskaya, Kurt Vonnegut, Alexander Solezehnitsyn, Salman Rushdie – these are just some of the many distinguished writers to have appeared in the renowned free speech magazine since 1972.
Index began as the organ of Writers and Scholars International, the organization founded by Stephen Spender in 1968 in response to the plight of Soviet dissidents. Concentrating first on the USSR, then spreading to other eastern European countries and, in the 1980s opening up to Latin America, Africa and beyond, Index “made it clear from the start that censorship was a worldwide issue that featured in democracies as well as in dictatorships”.
Robert McCrum, associate editor of The Observer, writes: “In the long and bloody history of the fight for intellectual freedom there had been many impassioned statements of principle about the writer’s role as a piece of grit in the engine of the state. No one, however, had ever thought to jam a whole toolbox into the machinery of power.”
The Index on Censorship archive is freely available online for forty days from 26 March. After that, readers will still be able to access all issues published before 2010 until the end of the 2012.