Latest Issue

A pornographic culture

Our culture has become tediously obsessed with sex. Instead of liberating us, the obsession with sex is enslaving us

By David Herman   January 1999

This is persecution,” says one of the characters in Alan Bennett’s play, Kafka’s Dick. “No it’s not. It’s biography,” replies her husband.

Bennett is right. Biographies have become a strange kind of modern persecution. Who has emerged unscathed from the recent wave? Eric Gill, Philip Larkin, Kingsley Amis, Dennis Potter and now Arthur Koestler have all had their reputations damaged, perhaps irreparably, by their biographers.

This is how we like our biographies now. As Bennett’s character says: “Fame is a continuing offence. It leaves you open to trial at any time.” Put this new wave of biographies together with television…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect