With the Banned Books Week starting on September 24, the essential question “should a book be banned, or the freedom of expression should be absolute?” will be in the spotlight. Until then, let us make a listing of 10 banned books at you should know about:
1. The Satanic Verses 1988
Salman Rushide is a famous writer whose works, sometimes difficult to understand, sometimes controversial, yet always magical and amazingly well written, brought him numerous prizes and distinctions. However, with the volume “The Satanic Verses”, Salman Rushdie also received some unwanted attention, when he was threatened and sentenced to death even, in some Muslim countries. One of the most controversial banned books in the world, this novel is forbidden in all the Muslim countries, except for Turkey. What is more, many translators of the book around the world were killed or injured by extremists.
2. Main Kampf 1925
If banned books should exist, than this one ought to be first on the list. Written by (who else than )Adolf Hitler, the book presents both an autobiography of the 35 years old soon-to-be one of the world’s most hated people of all times and a presentation of his political ideas. With such chapter titles as “The Jewish peril”, there is no wonder that the book was banned in various countries.
3. Lolita (1955)
Written by Vladimir Nabokov, the book was actually a phenomenon and is considered one of the best books of the past century, as well as a revolutionary book. It was banned in France, Argentina, New Zeeland and several other countries for being immoral and obscene. The book describes the obsession of a middle aged man for a 12 years old girl. The censors did such a good job (not) that Lolita became the worldwide stereotype of a sexy young girl.
4. The adventures of Huckleberry Finn 1884
The classic book of Mark Twain, which most of us read in school saw many bans ever since its publication. It was first considered inappropriate due to the use of slang terms, which, in those times, was outrageous. Then, when racism became an issue, it was banned for being racist. Fortunately, the ban was lifted long ago.
5. American Heritage Dictionary 1969
To my surprise, even dictionaries may be considered inappropriate, immoral, obscene and so on and may enrich the list of banned books. How? By including “ugly words”. Apparently, according to some wise people, these words should be kept hidden, so that children reading the dictionary could not come across them. This work was banned in one place or another (such as schools and libraries) for containing slang words that should not be known to decent people and children. Come on, I think children these days may write a work of their own on slang words!
6. Harry Potter series 1997-2007
Ranking first on the American Library Association is one of the most popular book series of the decade: the masterpiece of J.K. Rowling outraged parents all over the USA for its promoting of wrong values among children, such as lying or stealing, for violence, witchcraft and many others. Now, if you read the last Harry Potter book, you might have the same opinion. Somehow, as the series went on, the violence increased in intensity. Maybe because the small readers from 1997 became young adults by now and their tastes in matters of literature changed…?
7. Captain Underpants series 1997-2006
Here is another children’s book series, this time by Dav Pilkey, which received unwanted kind of attention: the book was considered by many inappropriate for the young readers, because of containing sexuality, obscenity and because of its attacks to family values. Thus, it was among the most frequently banned books for several years in a row. Would you allow your child to read it?
8. The color purple 1982
As in most cases, one of the most banned books of these days is also one of the most rewarded one. The Color Purple is the story of a black woman, living in Georgia, in the ‘30s and the terrors she is forced to endure both by her father and by her husband. The book was challenged and even burnt because of being very violent.
9. Candide 1789
Soon after publication, Candide became one of the most banned books in history. Written by Voltaire, this masterpiece was accused of promoting blasphemy, political subversion, as well as for attacking philosophy . Even though centuries had passed since its publication, Candide was still on the black list in the 20th century. Nevertheless, Voltaire inspired, through his work, other artists to create similar works.
10 Grimm’s fairy tales
Another children book that has created great controversy and has become one of the most commented banned books in history is the fairy tales volume published in 1812 by the brothers Grimm. While these are ones of the most popular fairy tales in history, they are equally controversial: the violence in some of the fairy tales may hurt the fragile mind of a child.