Tomorrow is the end of the Banned Books Week (BBW). BBW is a national celebration of the freedom to read in America. Here is where you can learn more about BBW.
Even though we do not share such a celebration we would like to share with you a list of some special books that were banned in different countries for special reasons.
James Joyce’s Ulysses published in 1918 was banned on sexual grounds. Leopold Bloom sees a woman on the seashore, and his actions during that event have been considered controversial. Also, Bloom thinks about his wife’s affair, as he walks through Dublin, Ireland on a famous day (we now know it as Bloomsday). In 1922, 500 copies of the book were burned by the United States Department of the Post Office.
On 28 September 1931, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll was banned in China by the Governor of Hunan Province, because “animals should not use human language” and “it is disastrous to put human beings and animals on the same level”
- Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell was banned in South Africa during the years of Apartheid– not because those in power saw themselves in the broken, awful men responsible for the horse’s despair and suffering, but because the title of the book was Black Beauty and if you didn’t know any better, it would seem to you that this was a book about a black woman… who was a beauty.
- Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, was banned in Ireland in 1931, not because the future it describes is unconscionable for its inhuman orderliness, anesthetization and roboticization, but because there is just too much sex in it and promisuity is simply anti-family and anti-religion. No ifs, ands or buts about it.
- The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie was banned in many countries including Iran and India, for propagating the theory of The Satanic Verses – those verses of the Holy Quran which were revealed to the Prophet by the Satan and which he later retracted as being part of the Holy Book of the Moslems. It was fortunate that Salman Rushdie survived the fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini, since the Japanese translator Igarashi was murdered, and the Italian translator Capriolo suffered serious physical injuries due to being stabbed.
- The Giver by Lois Lowry is one of the most frequently challenged and banned books in middle schools across America. It has been referred to as “the suicide” book by some groups because it portrays a Utopian society that relies on euthanasia and suicide to create the perfect community. Despite the controversy, this is a beautifully written and conceived book.
- Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak was banned in Russian until 1988 due to its underlying criticism of the Bolshevik party.
- 1984 by George Orwell is about Big Brother and its political themes was banned in the USSR and challenged in Florida based on what challengers considered pro-communist and sexual themes throughout the book.
- Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov explores the mind of a self-loathing and highly intelligent pedophile named Humbert Humbert, who narrates his life and the obsession that consumes it: his lust for “nymphets” like 12-year-old Dolores Haze. French officials banned it for being “obscene,” as did England, Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa. Today, the term Lolita has come to imply an oversexed teenage siren, although Vladimir Nabokov, for his part, never intended to create the association. In fact, he nearly burned the manuscript in disgust, and fought with his publishers over whether an image of a girl should be included on the book’s cover.