Ten Controversial and Banned Books
Books are banned every day. Do you know some of the most famous examples of books that have been censored? Do you know why they’ve been challenged or banned. This list highlights some of the most famous books that have been been banned, censored or challenged. Take a look!
1) “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain
Published in 1884, “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain has been banned on social grounds. Concord Public Library called the book “trash suitable only for the slums,” when it first banned the novel in 1885. The references to and treatment of African Americans in the novel reflect the time about which it was written, but some critics have thought such language inappropriate for study and reading in schools and libraries.
2) “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank
“Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl” is an important work from World War II. It chronicles the experiences of a young Jewish girl, Anne Frank, as she lives under Nazi occupation. She hides with her family, but she is eventually discovered and sent to a concentration camp (where she died). This book was banned for passages that were considered “sexually offensive,” as well as for the tragic nature of the book, which some readers felt was a “real downer.”
3) “The Arabian Nights”
“The Arabian Nights” is a collection of tales, which has been banned by Arab governments. Various editions of “The Arabian Nights” were also banned by the U.S. government under the Comstock Law of 1873.
4) “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin
Kate Chopin’s novel, “The Awakening” (1899), is the famous tale of Edna Pontellier, who leaves her family, commits adultery, and begins to rediscover her true self — as an artist. Such an awakening is not easy, nor is it socially acceptable (particularly at the time the book was published). The book was criticized for being immoral and scandalous. After this novel was met with such scathing reviews, Chopin never wrote another novel. “The Awakening” is now considered an important work in feminist literature.
5) “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath
“The Bell Jar” is the only novel by Sylvia Plath, and it is famous not only because it offers shocking insight into her mind and art, but also because it is a coming-of-age story — told in the first person by Esther Greenwood, who struggles with mental illness. Esther’s suicide attempts made the book a target for book censors. (The book has been repeatedly banned and challenged for its controversial content.)
6) “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley
Published in 1932, Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” has been banned with complaints about the language used, as well morality issues. “Brave New World” is a satirical novel, with a stringent division of the classes, drugs, and free love. The book was banned in Ireland in 1932, and the book has been banned and challenged in schools and libraries across the United States. One complaint was that the novel “centered around negative activity.”
7) “The Call of the Wild” by Jack London
Published by American author Jack London in 1903, “The Call of the Wild” tells the story of a dog who reverts to his primordial impulses in the frigid wilds of the Yukon territory. The book is a popular piece for study in American literature classrooms (sometimes read in conjunction with “Walden” and “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”). The novel was banned in Yugoslavia and Italy. In Yugoslavia, the complaint was that the book was “too radical.”
8) “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker
“The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker, received the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, but the book has been frequently challenged and banned for what has been termed “sexual and social explicitness.” The novel involves sexual assault and abuse. Despite the controversies concerning this title, the book was made into a motion picture.
9) “Candide” by Voltaire
Published in 1759, Voltaire’s “Candide” was banned by the Catholic Church. Bishop Etienne Antoine wrote: “We prohibit, under canonical law, the printing or sale of these books…”
10) “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger
First published in 1951, “The Catcher in the Rye” details 48 hours in the life of Holden Caulfield. The novel is the only novel-length work by J.D. Salinger, and its history has been colorful. “The Catcher in the Rye” is famous as the most censored, banned and challenged book between 1966 and 1975 for being “obscene,” with an “excess of vulgar language, sexual scenes, and things concerning moral issues.”