What books were banned and why?

Governments indeed love to ban various things. Books especially. Books are dangerous. But what books have been considered to be the most dangerous through the years and centuries, and why? Let me tell you (Warning! Get a cup of hot tea, this article needs a big amount of time for reading and a proper atmosphere.).

1) ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ by D. H. Lawrence. It was firstly published in 1928 in Italy, and it was banned in many countries (for example, Australia, the United States, and Japan) because of obscenity. In the present circumstances you can easily buy it – but you will not be extremely surprised by any scenes there. Nowadays we live in a world where “Fifty Shades” became a bestseller. But it’s riveting to read about the culture, people, and social context of the early 20th century.

2) ‘The 120 Days of Sodom or the School of Libertinage’ is a novel by Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade. He was a French writer and a more astonishing fact about this – it was written in 1785 but wasn’t published until the early 20th century. This book is also considered as pornography and was banned due to described scenes of sexual violence.

3) ‘Brave New World’ by Aldous Huxley. It describes the human future but… not a happy one. The author set the action in a futuristic World State. There, all citizens are environmentally engineered like ‘biorobots’ into an intelligence-based social hierarchy. This is a classic of dystopian books. It describes what we can become if we use scientific advancements in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation, and classical conditioning. It was prohibited in several countries for rather different reasons – for example, in Ireland, it is considered to be “anti-family” and “anti-religion” book when in India it was banned as “pornography.”

4) ‘The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie.’ This story is written in the magical realism style – you can read about the modern world filled with both mayhem and miracles. It tells readers about two Indian actors of opposing sensibilities and moral qualities that fell to the earth, transformed into the living symbols of what was angelic and evil. It was restricted in many countries cause of alleged blasphemy against Islam. But, in Great Britain, this book almost won the Booker Prize in 1998 (it was published in the same year).

5) ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ by Erich Maria Remarque. It describes the life of German soldiers during the WW I (1914 -1918) with all its dangers and traumas for mental and physical health and how soldiers felt when they came back home. It was prohibited in Fascist Italy because of its antimilitarism.

6) Do you remember how I mentioned “Fifty Shades” by E. L. James at the beginning of the article? It was banned in 2015 in Malaysia because “it contains sadistic material.” Also, this book was considered to be a threat to morality.

7) ‘The Bible’. Yeah, this one also was forbidden. Where? In Spain! From the sixteenth until the nineteenth century. In the Soviet Union, it was banned for a long period of time too.

8) ‘Oliver Twist’ by Charles Dickens. It is about an orphan who joined a gang of juvenile pickpockets led by Fagin, an elderly criminal. The world-famous author raised really important questions like child labor, the recruitment of children as criminals, and the ignorance of authorities to the life of street children. So why does somebody need to ban this book? It was prohibited by Nazi Germany for featuring Jewish characters.

Surely, there are many other banned books in many countries which you should (or shouldn’t) read. It is a kind of freedom of choice. Enjoy yourself!

April 27,  2020

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