Censorship makes the heart grow fonder: best banned books



Mike Harris, Staff Writer


Ever since the first time they were published, they have been rallied against, criticized and been the center of many a great controversy. Some controversies surrounding particular books have caused such a storm that the books were banned in a variety of places, from entire nations down to specific school districts.

Here is a look at some interesting titles that have, at one point or another, borne the label of “banned.”

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings– Maya Angelou

This book, published in 1969, is an autobiographical account of the author’s life that deals with some controversial themes. Though the book has a positive message about pushing through and overcoming hard times, some libraries and schools have deemed the adversity that Angelou describes too great to be read.

This is due to a graphic and traumatic scene of childhood rape and imagery of sexuality and racism that is pervasive in the book, as it presumably was during the author’s life.

A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck

This coming-of-age story published in 1972 follows the life of a boy and his pet pig (named Pinky). The boy, named Robert, is from a family of modest means. His father is a butcher who slaughters hogs. The novel is set roughly around the 1920s, around the time of the Coolidge presidency, and is loosely based on events from the authors own childhood.

The book has been met with resistance because of its graphic (yet accurate) depictions of animal slaughter, as well as sexually explicit and violent content. It is among the most-challenged books in recent history.

Lolita– Vladimir Nabokov

After being denied publication numerous times by reputable major publishing houses, the author had the novel published in France (by a publisher who could be seen as rather seedy) in 1955. It was then later published in other countries, but not without controversy.

For a considerable period of time it was banned in Britain and soon after France. Its eventual British publication ended the career of one of the publishers. When it reached the US, it sold at an incredible rate.

The controversy the book caused centers around the subject of the novel: a literature professor in his late thirties, acting as an unreliable narrator, who is obsessed with a 12 year old girl named Dolores, whom he later becomes sexually involved with after securing status as her stepfather. The novel’s title is his private nickname for her.

Candide– Voltaire

Candide is a short satirical work written in 1759 amid great controversy, which took aim at church, government, society, military, philosophy and optimism about these such things with the sharp, signature wit and sarcasm for which Voltaire was and is well-known.

When it debuted, Church and secular authorities denounced and promptly banned the novel, but not before it managed to sell thousands of copies at a burning pace. In 1762, it made the Roman Catholic Church’s list of prohibited books and was even banned well into the twentieth century in America, at least once being barred from even entering the country.

Despite its brevity, the work took some hard shots at the powers that were in France (and really the world at large) at the time, and is today regarded as one of the greatest achievements in Western Literature – recognized as Voltaire’s magnum opus.