— Garth Stein (@garthstein)September 22, 2014
Round up the usual suspects! Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain was one of seven books suspended from the curriculum of the Highland Park, Texas public school district. You don’t have to guess pretty hard on the titles of the other six books.
CLASSIC BANNED BOOKS
In honor of Banned Books Week, we’ve put together a list of now-Classics that were once—or are still—contested, censored, or banned. So below, check out a few historically hackles-raising Penguin Classics that came to mind around the office. And never forget that reading classics can be rebellious.
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
John Steinbeck’s legendary depiction of Americans struggling for survival during the Great Depression has been burned, banned, and the topic of numerous censorship trials since its publication in 1939. Though the book’s purpose was to illuminate the plight of migrant families, many authorities felt they’d been depicted in an unfair light. The battles over censoring The Grapes of Wrath have been international, including a Turkish trial in which publishers faced up to six months imprisonment for “spreading propaganda unfavorable to the state.”
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
No stranger to ruffled feathers, John Steinbeck’s 1937 novel Of Mice and Men has managed to amass quite an interesting list of enemies. Along with plenty of school curriculum battles, Of Mice and Men was banned in Ireland in 1953 and condemned by a South Carolina chapter of the Klu Klux Klan. Censorship battles over the novel continue even today.
On The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
Among the most controversial works of modern time, Charles Darwin’s revolutionary work in the natural sciences has been banned on numerous occasions. Dramatized in the 1955 play “Inherent the Wind”, Darwin’s theory of evolution was banned from Tennessee schools for 42 years after the infamous Scopes Trial. And the work continues to be an inflammatory topic in many parts of the world, including the United States.
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
A title synonymous with investigative journalism, Upton Sinclair turned the meatpacking industry of the early 1900s on its head with his seminal work The Jungle, in which he exposed the mistreatment of immigrant workers and blatant disregard of consumer health. Surprisingly, The Jungle was never suppressed in the United States, but was banned in Yugoslavia and burned by both the Nazis in 1933 and East German communists in 1956.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
It should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the psychedelic fantasy depicted in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that many parents have found it a questionable story for children, despite its popularity. However, the book’s oddest opponent surfaced in China, when in 1931 a provincial governor was wildly concerned about the effects of animals being depicted speaking human language, describing it as “disastrous.”
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was making waves in public school districts throughout the country when it first published in 1962. The story of rebellious Randle Patrick Murray as he butts heads with the powerful and manipulative Nurse Ratched in an Oregon mental hospital displayed a scathing critique of institutionalism and the prominent psychology of the time. Fearing the impact the book might have on their children, parents in Colorado attempted to ban the novel from public schools, claiming it “glorifies criminal activity, [and] has a tendency to corrupt juveniles.” In 1986, the book was banned from curricula in Aberdeen, Washington, simply because of its secular humanistic values.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
As a cautionary tale of science and man’s role in the creation of life, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has for the past two centuries found itself at the center of debates over religion and science, its work with these themes resulting in protest from many various Christian groups. Though never governmentally censored in the United States, South Africa banned the novel in 1955 for obscenity.
The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
William Golding’s 1954 novel The Lord of the Flies has been in the censorship cross-hairs of American parents for decades. Those attempting to ban the book have done so on the grounds that it is excessively violent, racist, and “implies that man is little more than an animal.” But Golding, a schoolteacher himself, wrote the book in response to an 1858 novel by R. M. Ballantyne, TheCoral Island, in which a group of young boys stranded on a desert island get along quite swimmingly. Though Golding enjoyed the book, his experience with schoolchildren led him to take the morality of the situation in…a different direction.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
When is a word just a word, and when is it something more? Considered the Great American Novel by many, Mark Twain’s use of racially loaded slurs in his novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been the topic of dozens of censorship battles. A disparaging picture of the antebellum South, Twain’s tale of a young man barreling down the Mississippi with an escaped slave has been among the most polarizing works of literature. First published in 1885, the novel has sparked heated debate over the publication and wider cultural effects of racist slurs. Though many cite context and Twain’s aim of revealing Southern racism as justification of the slang’s use, many advocates of censoring the work have called for select slurs to be replaced with simply “The N-Word.”
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
Possibly the most unusual banning of a book on our list, Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty was prohibited in Apartheid South Africa based on a misunderstanding. Though Anna Sewell’s novel champions compassion for all living things, its title was misinterpreted by the white National Party as a novel about a black woman and hence deemed not fit for the public. Naturally, the officials were far too busy to actually read the literature considered unacceptable.
Classic Fridays | The world is full of classics. Every Friday, we close the week with one of our favorites.
Hey readers! Some of our amazing artists gave us their thoughts on banned books and the power of the written (and drawn!) word. We will post one image every day this week in honor of Banned Books Week. Special thanks to Art Spiegelman for drawing this for us.
Fight evil. Read books.
Ken Burns has been busy. The award-winning filmmaker’s seven-part television series, ‘The Roosevelts,’ premiered on PBS this week, and ‘Ken Burns’ the app, featuring hours of curated clips from his documentaries was just released.
Yes, there’s an app for Ken Burns.
A “yarn bombing” took place this weekend at the Fairfield Woods Branch Library, but the masked “ninja knitters” came with good intentions — to draw attention to the branch’s 45th anniversary celebration. In advance, the knitting group wrapped tree branches and poles on the library property with coats of colorful to reflect the festive spirit.
Have you yarn bombed your local library branch today?
The splendor of Strahov Library
I am typing this while looking at the building where these images were taken: the library of Strahov Abbey, towering high above Prague. While the monastery was established in 1143, the library dates from 1720. It is one of the most impressive I have visited: thousands of books placed in what looks more like a museum than a library. I hope you get a sense of the atmosphere from these images.
Pics (my own): Strahov Abbey Library, Prague.
Brooklyn Book Festival Reception for Librarians Brooklyn Book Festival - September 21st 2014
The Brooklyn Book Festival welcomes librarians to a special morning event featuring Jonathan Lethem, author of Motherless Brooklyn, Fortress of Solitude and Dissident Gardens, and New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña for a conversation about the writing life, education and inspiration. Trivia Fact: Lethem dedicated his first novel Gun, with Occasional Music to Ms. Fariña, who was his fourth grade teacher at PS29.
How cool is this? Jonathan Lethem in conversation with his fourth-grade teacher, now the New York City Schools Chancellor.
After a year of dormancy at the hands of bed bugs, the book sales from the Friends of the Lawrence Public Library are finally back.
The Friends, a nonprofit that raises funds for the library, was forced to cancel its last two book sales, in the spring and fall, after a donation of books infested with bed bugs threw all or most of the several thousand books being prepared for sale under suspicion (they were never mixed with the library’s collection).
The book-living bugs spent the past year in a semi-trailer, cast off to starve to death under quarantine. Now, the books are fit for sale.
I must admit this headline gave me pause.
Bedridden cardinal’s aide entrusted vehicle to two men, who bought drugs thinking they were protected by diplomatic plates
Best headline of the week!
The author and philosopher is widely known as the father of the Harlem Renaissance. But it is not widely known that Locke, who died 60 years ago, was never buried.
This story unfortunately doesn’t talk about why someone’s ashes might have been stored archivally in the first place. Who wrote the scope and content on that one?
WTF? I assume the ashes were in an acid-free container!
Jobs@UIOWA: The official place to search and apply for jobs at The University of Iowa.
WE ARE HIRING!
A special job for a special librarian!