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Sam Dobson Writes: My Favorite Banned Books

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

My Favorite Banned Books

With the ups and downs of censorship over time, books have persevered although not completely unscathed. Many literary pieces that may have been regarded as controversial, defiant, or too radical have fallen victim to banishment at some point in time. With the luxury of "freedom of speech", we no longer come across this harsh punishment very often. In honor of the novels that have previously been branded profanity or burned at the stake, I want to acknowledge their strength. Here is a list of my favorite banned books. If you see an unfamiliar book cover, you should read it, after all, it was banned for a reason.

1.   The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

         Shortly after its publication in America in February 1885, many libraries banned Twain's novel 
         based on the opinion that it was obscene and had poor word choice. Now, Twain's famous         
         novel is taught in just about every high school English class and is one of the most well known novels 
         of all time.



2.   Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

First banned in Ireland in 1932 for language and being anti-family and religion, Huxley's novel has suffered it's fair share of banishments. The book was banned in India in 1967 with accusations of pornography and there was an attempt to ban it in California in 1993 because the book contained too much negativity. Now, Huxley's novel is widely taught in schools, especially in college courses where great attention is paid to the novel's negative utopia and its affect on society.

3.   Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Published in 1939, Grapes of Wrath has been described as the most thoroughly discussed novel of the 20th century, due in part to controversy. Steinbeck's novel was banned, burned, and debated on national radio at the time of its publication. A vivid portrayal of a poor family during the Great Depression, the book has been criticized for vulgar language, inappropriate sexual references, and political propaganda.  Not only a widely taught novel, Grapes of Wrath went on to win a Pulitzer Price for fiction.

4.   Ulysses by James Joyce
A series published between 1914 to 1921, Joyce's epic novel gained negative attention when prosecuted for obscenity in the United States when a passage of the novel containing the main character masturbating was published in 1920. In 1933, a U.S. District Judge ruled that the novel was not pornographic and therefore, not obscene. The novel in its entirety was banned until the 1930s in the United Kingdom. While often regarded as a challenging read, Ulysses is often praised as an innovative and important piece of literature. Joyce fans around the world now celebrate Bloom's Day (named after Leopold Bloom, the novel's everyday hero) on June 16th.

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