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Banned...

Posted by bob1, 30 September 2010 · 833 views

or at least challenged!

For those of you with absolutely no idea what I am blogging about:

Last week was the American Library Association (ALA) Banned Books Week, celebrated during the last week of September every year since 1982.

As a fan of reading and having been allowed access to libraries since I was quite young, with very little censorship of what I was reading, I am somewhat opposed to banning books. I do however support the sort of "out of sight, out of mind" principles that the ALA practices. Where books that may not be appropriate for a young audience are placed among the "Adult" books - still available, but not so obvious.

Anyway, doing a bit of searching and reading around I have come across the banned books bookshelf at Project Gutenberg, which has some rather surprising entries, including such authors as William Shakespeare (Richard II), Dante Alighieri (Divine Comedy), Mark Twain (Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn), Edward Gibbon (Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire) and last (in my list), but not least our favourite evolutionist Charles Darwin for his seminal work "On the Origin of Species". Now, I am well aware that Darwin's work was and is not accepted by many people to be fact, so I can see reasons for it being banned, and similarly for some of the other books listed. However, I am not so sure about the reasons for many of the other works listed on the website. Indeed, I am quite suprised by how many formerly banned books are now classics of literature.

A bit more searching and reading leads me to conclude that the popularity of banned books works in two ways.

1)Great works of any art form are usually controversial in some manner, so books like Joyce's "Ulysses" depicting sex scenes and using coarse language, was not really acceptable according to the morals of the time and lead to it being banned until it was recognised as a work of genius.
2)A book gets banned after publication, and there isn't a censor for books as far as I know, meaning books are in the shops before banning. Banning the book leads to publicity for the book. Thus, people seek out copies of the banned book to see why it was banned and get a bit of tittillation for doing something semi-illegal into the bargain.

Anyway, have a look at the links provided and see what you think. There's some really good reads in amongst the banned books listings.

Caveat Emptor: some of those books linked are quite overtly erotic in content and some use some quite obscene language, have depictions of violence, rape, etc., so if you are easily offended or have a trigger related to particular events, do a bit of research before you actually download any text. Most of the books have Wikipedia entries.




I use to be a reader myself but then I stopped because of school work (I keep saying I don't have the time). Your blog got me interested so I will look and see if I find any that I might like.

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