From the editor's desk

Uses of literature

08 May 2014

What are prisons for? And what is literature for? High-minded Victorians would probably have given the same answer in each case: they exist to make bad people good and good people better. It is evidently a point lost on the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, whom no one would accuse of high-mindedness despite his grammar-school and Cambridge education. Otherwise he might have made Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment required reading throughout the prison population – thereby also addressing the common problem of poor reading ability among prisoners. Instead he has imposed new rules restricting the privileges of prisoners, including ending the right to have books sent to them from outside. This is not quite a ban on reading – there are small prison libraries where books lim

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