Controversy is a notion that’s become highly dependent on the time period it surfaces from. What people may have found truly appalling a hundred years ago merely draws a shrug from us in at the dawn of the 21st century. Still, that doesn’t change the fact that some people’s creativity exceeded some bounds that resulted in a governmental ban and heavy censorship. Join us as we browse through some of the most scandalous and controversial books in history and determine whether the fuss around them still lives up today.
#1 “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov
Critics and audiences alike are extremely torn on this side. On one hand, Lolita conveys a beautiful display of prose and its literary mastery granted it a spot among the finest pieces of English literature of all time. On the other hand, it’s highly frowned upon because of the forbidden relationship between a teenage girl and a considerably older man. The book was banned in the UK and France and it took several years before it was finally published in the USA.
#2 “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown
One of the best examples of controversy in recent literature, The Da Vinci Code mingles with topics that are controversial by nature. Dan Brown treaded on thin ice when he chose to write about characters unveiling conspiracies hidden by the Catholic Church and about the highly mysterious theory that hints at a possible relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
#3 “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou wrote a total of five autobiographic books filled with details about the difficulties of her life in a time oozing of racism and sexism. Among the many hardships she’d endured, there have been several instances of abuse, which are quite explicitly described in the pages of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. Because of its graphic nature, the book was banned in several countries, though it eventually returned to shelves and it received plenty of accolades and recognition.
#4 “Ulysses” by James Joyce
A definite literary masterpiece, Ulysses stirred a lot of controversies even before the finished product hit the stores. Some excerpts that were featured in several publications and review journals were considered to be so obscene that the UK lifted an almost immediate ban on the book, lifted only in 1930. After repeated trials and court visits, it was considered that the nature of the book wasn’t “pornographic,” which resulted in a lifted ban.
#5 “The Kindly Ones” by Jonathan Littell
Would you expect anything else from a book written by a Nazi SS officer? Filled to the brink with displays of violence, it was considered by many critics and readers to be monstrous, repugnant, and repellent. It also received its fair share of praise for how accurately it displayed the horrors and evil of World War II.
#6 “The Anarchist Cookbook” by William Powell
Powell’s book was written in protest to the USA’s involvement in the Vietnam War. Published in 1991, it contained instructions on how to build a bomb, it offered in-depth guides on how to start a demonstration, as well as how to sabotage. It resulted in many hate emails being sent to the author.
#7 “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker
The problem people had with Alice Walker’s novel is that it’s ridden to the brink with graphic displays of extremely controversial topics. It was rejected by a multitude of schools, publications, and libraries, though some argue that this is rather a result of people who vehemently deny the horrors of slavery and racism.
#8 “The Chocolate War” by Robert Cormier
Initially published as a book for teenagers and young adults, parents were appalled once they actually dug into the contents of the novel. It features plenty of violence, swearing, and questionable controversies. This combination led to a general ban in plenty of countries and, in fact, it’s almost impossible to find it in stores today.
#9 “Tropic of Cancer” by Henry Miller
A book depicting a series of sexual escapades in Paris sounds like enough of a reason to put you on the edge of the seat. But Henry miller took it a notch further with his graphic descriptions, his frequent use of obscene words, and the slightly misogynistic depictions of women. Decades passed since its first publishing, but the war still rages on.
#10 “Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger
A beloved book among teenagers for its message of rebellion and freedom, Catcher in the Rye sparked some controversies that eventually led to crowning the novel as the most banned book between 1963 and 1982. Aside from the misanthropic messages and foul language, the rage was also installed by the fact that a handful of school shooters and assassins referred to it as inspiration.