Who is trying to ban these books?
Unfortunately, there is no shortage of people in this world who want to ban literary material. Dating back to the Inquisition, there have existed lists of prohibited books.
In 1559, the Spanish Inquisition, in conjunction with the Catholic Church, listed hundereds of authors as having 'evil' books to their credit. This same inquisition burned witches, tortured Jews and probably killed many people without right or reason. This book was called Index Liborum Prohibitorum
and the last edition was published in 1948. The first half of the book contained reasons for the banning and the second half was a list. Ironically, when the Index
ceased publication in 1966, the Catholic Church banned it.
James Joyce's Ulysess
was banned in the United States for 15 years. It was also seized by the Postal Authorities from 1918 to 1930. In 1933, the ban was lifted.
In 1930, customs offices all over the world seized copies of Voltaire's critically hailed Candide.
It was later released in a different form, after being defended by two Harvard Professors.
Since its publication in 1749, John Cleland' s Fanny Hill
has been supressed. Many fundamentalist religious organizations still fight for its banning.
Aristophanes' Lysistrata, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Boccaccio's Decameron, Defoe's Moll
and various editions of The Arabian Nights
were all banned for decades from the U.S.
mails under the Comstock Law of 1873. This Law also forbade the selling of birth control and the right to choose abortion.
was banned again in 1967 in Greece, which was then controlled by a military junta.
Blaise Pascal's The Provincial Letters,
a defense of the Jansenist Antoine Arnauld, was ordered
shredded and burned by King Louis XIV of France in 1660. France also banned Tasso's
in the 16th century for containing ideas unsupportive and cynical about the authority of kings.
South Africa's apartheid regime banned a number of classic books; in 1955, for instance, The New
reported that Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
was banned there as "indecent, objectionable, or obscene". The regime also banned Anna Sewell's Black Beauty,
a story about a horse.
The Bible and The Qur'an were both removed from numerous libraries and banned from import in
the Soviet Union from 1926 to 1956. Many editions of the Bible have also been banned and burned
by civil and religious authorities throughout history. Interestingly, the church fought against this censorship, but has attempted to ban such satires as the recent Bible in Cockney Slang.
D. H. Lawrence's infamous Lady Chatterley's Lover
was the object of numerous obscenity trials in both the
UK and the United States up into the 1960s.
Most of the people trying to ban books nowadays do so under the guise of "protecting" students and children. Among these are: The Church of Scientology, Christians Influencing Education and some right wing political parties. In Canada, the Alliance Party of Canada has many platforms about banning such classics as Of Mice and Men
and The current Government in the US, under George "Dubya" Bush, has some questionable platforms. The party is far right, and Bush has alluded to "cleaning up school literature."