Be glad in the Lord and rejoice! Psalm 32:11

Monday, September 25, 2017

Banned Book Week 2017

This week marks the beginning of Banned Books Week, and it always amazes me the books that are on the list put out by the American Library Association. 

Here's a little more info from the ALA:

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read, Sept. 24 - 30.

 By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted with removal or restrictions in libraries and schools.

While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read.

Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community – librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types – in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

While there are several lists of current books, it's always the classics that draw my attention. Books that over the years have withstood the "fire" of being deemed ban-able and are still sought out as favorite reads of so many. 

Here are the top 10 most-banned classic works of fiction in the 20th century, according to the American Library Association, and a little bit about why each was considered controversial.

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald's Jazz Age classic is one of the most-banned books of all time. The tale of playboy Jay Gatsby and the target of his affection, Daisy Buchanan, was "challenged" as recently as 1987, by Baptist College in Charleston, S.C. because of "language and sexual references in the book."

The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

The stream-of-consciousness story of Holden Caulfield's coming of age has long been a controversial text for young readers. An Oklahoma teacher was fired for assigning Catcher to an 11th grade English class in 1960, and numerous school boards have banned it for its language (Holden goes on a lengthy rant about the "F" word at one point) and sexual content.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel that tells the story of the migrant Joad family has been burned and banned for its language since its release in 1939. It was even banned for a time by Kern County, Calif., which is where the Joads end up, because Kern County residents said it was "obscene" and libelous.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This 1961 Pulitzer-Prize winning story of racism in the Deep South, told through the eyes of a young girl named Scout, has been banned mainly for its use of language, including the "N" word. A school district in Indiana challenged it in 1981, because it claimed the book represented "institutionalized racism under the guise of good literature," according to the ALA.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

This novel's graphic portrayals of rape, racism, violence against women and sex have seen it banned by school boards and libraries since its release in 1982. Another winner of the Pulitzer Prize, The Color Purple was one of more than a dozen books challenged in Virginia in 2002 by a group calling themselves Parents Against Bad Books in Schools.

Ulysses by James Joyce

The stream-of-consciousness epic novel, considered Joyce's masterpiece, was not only banned for what critics viewed as its pornographic nature, but 500 copies were seized and burned by New York postal officials in 1922. The matter ended up in court, where a judge ultimately decided Ulysses should be available, calling it "a book of originality and sincerity of treatment, ant that it has not the effect of promoting lust."

Beloved by Toni Morrison

The story of the freed slave Sethe has been challenged for its scenes of violence and sexual material. It also won the Pulitzer Prize, in 1987.

The Lord of the Flies by William Golding

This tale of schoolboys stranded on a desert island is often banned for its "vulgar" language, and violence by its characters. It was challenged at a North Carolina high school in 1981 because it was considered "demoralizing inasmuch as it implies that man is little more than an animal."

1984 by George Orwell

The dystopian future in Orwell's 1949 novel was written to depict what he saw as serious threats from the then-budding Soviet Union. Nevertheless, it was challenged in a Florida school district in 1981 for being "pro-Communist" and having "explicit sexual matter."

Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov

It's little wonder that Nabokov's 1955 novel about middle-aged Humbert Humbert's sexual relationship with adolescent Dolores, whom he calls Lolita, has raised some eyebrows.
It's been banned as "obscene" in several countries, including France, England and Argentina, from its release until 1959, and in New Zealand until 1960.
The links will take you to a more in-depth look at each of these books. For more classic books that were banned by schools, libraries, and other authorities, check out the lists at the American Library Association's website.



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1 comment:

Mystica said...

Interesting list! I've read most of them for which I am glad.