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At the time of publication, Steinbeck's novel "was a phenomenon on the scale of a national event. It was publicly banned and burned by citizens, it was debated on national radio hook-ups; but above all, it was read."
Steinbeck scholar John Timmerman sums up the book's impact: "The Grapes of Wrath may well be the most thoroughly discussed novel - in criticism, reviews, and college classrooms - of twentieth century American literature."
Part of its impact stemmed from its passionate depiction of the plight of the poor, and in fact, many of Steinbeck's contemporaries attacked his social and political views. Bryan Cordyack writes, "Steinbeck was attacked as a propagandist and a socialist from both the left and the right of the political spectrum.
The most fervent of these attacks came from the Associated Farmers of California; they were displeased with the book's depiction of California farmers' attitudes and conduct toward the migrants. They denounced the book as a 'pack of lies' and labeled it 'communist propaganda'."
However, although Steinbeck was accused of exaggeration of the camp conditions to make a political point, in fact he had done the opposite, underplaying the conditions that he well knew were worse than the novel describes because he felt exact description would have gotten in the way of his story. Furthermore, there are several references to socialist politics and questions which appear in the John Ford film of 1940 which do not appear in the novel, which is less political in its terminology and interests.
Not only was the book banned in Australia, but a book describing the British trial, The Trial of Lady Chatterley, was also banned. A copy was smuggled into the country and then published widely. The fallout from this event eventually led to the easing of censorship of books in the country, although the country still retains the Office of Film and Literature Classification. In early October 2009, the federal institution of Australia Post banned the sale of this book in their stores and outlets claiming that books of this nature don't fit in with the 'theme of their stores'.
In 1930, Senator Bronson Cutting proposed an amendment to the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, which was then being debated, ending the practice of having U.S. Customs censor allegedly obscene books imported to U.S. shores. Senator Reed Smoot vigorously opposed such an amendment, threatening to publicly read indecent passages of imported books in front of the Senate. Although he never followed through, he included Lady Chatterley's Lover as an example of an obscene book that must not reach domestic audiences, declaring "I've not taken ten minutes on Lady Chatterley's Lover, outside of looking at its opening pages. It is most damnable! It is written by a man with a diseased mind and a soul so black that he would obscure even the darkness of hell!"
When it was published in Britain in 1960, the trial of the publishers, Penguin Books, under the Obscene Publications Act of 1959 was a major public event and a test of the new obscenity law.
Various academic critics including E. M. Forster, Helen Gardner, Richard Hoggart, Raymond Williams and Norman St John-Stevas were called as witnesses, and the verdict, delivered on 2 November 1960, was "not guilty". This resulted in a far greater degree of freedom for publishing explicit material in the United Kingdom. The prosecution was ridiculed for being out of touch with changing social norms when the chief prosecutor, Mervyn Griffith-Jones, asked if it were the kind of book "you would wish your wife or servants to read".
Slaughterhouse-Five has been the subject of many attempts at censorship, due to its irreverent tone and purportedly obscene content. In the novels, American soldiers use profanity; his language is irreverent (The gun made a ripping sound like the opening of the zipper on the fly of God Almighty); and the book depicts sex. It was one of the first literary acknowledgments that homosexual men, referred to in the novel as "fairies", were among the victims of the Nazi Holocaust.
It is frequently banned from American literature classes, removed from provincial school libraries, and struck from literary curricula; however, it is still taught in some schools. The U.S. Supreme Court judged the novel's suitability for teaching to adolescents in the case of Island Trees School District v. Pico, [457 U.S. 853 (1982)] as one of several books banned. Slaughterhouse-Five is the sixty-seventh entry to the American Library Association's list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-1999.
To Kill a Mockingbird has been a source of significant controversy since its being the subject of classroom study as early as 1963. The book's racial slurs, profanity, and frank discussion of rape have led people to challenge its appropriateness in libraries and classrooms across the United States. The American Library Association reported that To Kill a Mockingbird was #23 of the 100 most frequently challenged books of 2000–2007.
One of the first incidents of the book being challenged was in Hanover, Virginia, in 1966: a parent protested that the use of rape as a plot device was immoral. Johnson cites examples of letters to local newspapers, which ranged from amusement to fury; those letters expressing the most outrage, however, complained about Mayella Ewell's attraction to Tom Robinson over the depictions of rape. Upon learning the school administrators were holding hearings to decide the book's appropriateness for the classroom, Harper Lee sent $10 to The Richmond News Leader suggesting it to be used toward the enrollment of "the Hanover County School Board in any first grade of its choice". The National Education Association in 1968 placed the novel second on a list of books receiving the most complaints from private organizations—after Little Black Sambo.
With a shift of attitudes about race in the 1970s, To Kill a Mockingbird faced challenges of a different sort: the treatment of racism in Maycomb was not condemned harshly enough. In one high-profile case outside the U.S., school districts in the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia attempted to have the book removed from standard teaching curricula in the 1990s, stating:
The terminology in this novel subjects students to humiliating experiences that rob them of their self-respect and the respect of their peers. The word 'Nigger' is used 48 times [in] the novel... We believe that the English Language Arts curriculum in Nova Scotia must enable all students to feel comfortable with ideas, feelings and experiences presented without fear of humiliation... To Kill a Mockingbird is clearly a book that no longer meets these goals and therefore must no longer be used for classroom instruction.
The response to these attempts to remove the book from standard teaching was passionate across Canada and the United States, and many of the initial complainants were labeled as overly sensitive and "benign censors." Isaac Saney, who supports attempts to ban the book, concludes that the media response to the removal effort was a form of institutionalized racism: "The media's editorialising against all 'censorship' and 'banning' includes vigorous hostility to the censorship and banning of racism. Its advocacy of freedom of speech includes freedom of speech for racists and fascists."
The novel is frequently interpreted as being critical of state-sponsored censorship, but Bradbury has disputed this interpretation. He said in a 2007 interview that the book explored the effects of television and mass media on the reading of literature.
Bradbury still has a lot to say, especially about how people do not understand his most famous literary work, Fahrenheit 451, published in 1953. ... Bradbury, a man living in the creative and industrial center of reality TV and one-hour dramas, says it is, in fact, a story about how television destroys interest in reading literature.
Yet in the paperback edition released in 1979, Bradbury wrote a new coda for the book containing multiple comments on censorship and its relation to the novel. The coda is also present in the 1987 mass market paperback, which is still in print.
There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches. Every minority, be it Baptist / Unitarian, Irish / Italian / Octogenarian / Zen Buddhist / Zionist / Seventh-day Adventist / Women's Lib / Republican / Mattachine / FourSquareGospel feel it has the will, the right, the duty to douse the kerosene, light the fuse….Fire-Captain Beatty, in my novel Fahrenheit 451, described how the books were burned first by the minorities, each ripping a page or a paragraph from this book, then that, until the day came when the books were empty and the minds shut and the library closed forever.
... Only six weeks ago, I discovered that, over the years, some cubby-hole editors at Ballantine Books, fearful of contaminating the young, had, bit by bit, censored some 75 separate sections from the novel. Students, reading the novel which, after all, deals with the censorship and book-burning in the future, wrote to tell me of this exquisite irony. Judy-Lynn del Rey, one of the new Ballantine editors, is having the entire book reset and republished this summer with all the damns and hells back in place.
In the late '50s, Bradbury observed that the novel touches on the alienation of people by media:
In writing the short novel Fahrenheit 451 I thought I was describing a world that might evolve in four or five decades. But only a few weeks ago, in Beverly Hills one night, a husband and wife passed me, walking their dog. I stood staring after them, absolutely stunned. The woman held in one hand a small cigarette-package-sized radio, its antenna quivering. From this sprang tiny copper wires which ended in a dainty cone plugged into her right ear. There she was, oblivious to man and dog, listening to far winds and whispers and soap-opera cries, sleep-walking, helped up and down curbs by a husband who might just as well not have been there. This was not fiction.
Bradbury directly foretells this incident early in the work:
And in her ears the little Seashells, the thimble radios tamped tight, and an electronic ocean of sound, of music and talk and music and talking coming in. p.12.
In 1960 a teacher was fired for assigning the novel in class. He was later reinstated. Between 1961 and 1982, The Catcher in the Rye was the most censored book in high schools and libraries in the United States. In 1981, it was both the most censored book and the second most taught book in public schools in the United States. According to the American Library Association, The Catcher in the Rye was the tenth most frequently challenged book from 1990–1999. It was one of the ten most challenged books in 2005, and has been off the list since 2006. The challenges generally begin with vulgar language with more general reasons including sexual references, blasphemy, undermining of family values and moral codes, Holden's being a poor role model, encouragement of rebellion, and promotion of drinking, smoking, lying, and promiscuity. Often, the challengers have been unfamiliar with the plot itself. Shelley Keller-Gage, a high school teacher who faced objections after assigning the novel in her class, noted that the challengers "are being just like Holden ... They are trying to be catchers in the rye." A reverse effect has been that this incident caused people to put themselves on the waiting list to borrow the novel, when there were none before.
Mark David Chapman's shooting of John Lennon, John Hinckley, Jr.'s assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, Robert John Bardo's shooting of Rebecca Schaeffer and other murders have also been associated with the novel.
In 2009, Salinger successfully sued to stop the U.S. publication of a novel that presents Holden Caulfield as an old man. The organization QuestionCopyright.org accused Salinger of hypocrisy for being willing to censor another author's work. The novel's author, Fredrick Colting, commented, "call me an ignorant Swede, but the last thing I thought possible in the U.S. was that you banned books". The issue is complicated by the nature of Colting's book, which has been compared to fan fiction. Although commonly not authorized by writers, no legal action is usually taken against fan fiction since it is rarely published commercially and thus involves no profit. Colting, however, has published his book commercially. Unauthorized fan fiction on The Catcher in the Rye has existed on the Internet for years without any legal action taken by Salinger.
In 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Grove Press, Inc. v. Gerstein, cited Jacobellis v. Ohio (which was decided the same day) and overruled state court findings of obscenity.
In his dissent from the majority holding that the book was not obscene, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael Musmanno wrote Cancer is "not a book. It is a cesspool, an open sewer, a pit of putrefaction, a slimy gathering of all that is rotten in the debris of human depravity."
Naked Lunch is considered Burroughs' seminal work, and one of the landmark publications in the history of American literature. Extremely controversial in both its subject matter and its use of often 'obscene' language (something Burroughs recognized and intended), the book was banned in Boston and Los Angeles in the United States, and several European publishers were harassed . It was one of the most recent American books over which an obscenity trial was held. The book was banned by Boston courts in 1962 due to obscenity (notably child murder and acts of pedophilia), but that decision was reversed in 1966 by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. This was significant, as it was the last major literary censorship battle in the U.S. The Appeals Court found the book did not violate obscenity statutes, as it was found to have some social value. The hearing included testimony in support of the work by Allen Ginsberg and Norman Mailer.
In 2002, a "restored text" edition of Naked Lunch was published with some new and previously suppressed material added.
Written over a seven-year period from 1914 to 1921, the novel was serialised in the American journal The Little Review from 1918 until the publication of the Nausicaä episode led to a prosecution for obscenity. In 1919, sections of the novel also appeared in the London literary journal The Egoist, but the novel itself was banned in the United Kingdom until the 1930s. In 1920 after the US magazine The Little Review serialized a passage of the book dealing with the main character masturbating, a group called the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, who objected to the book's content, took action to attempt to keep the book out of the United States. At a trial in 1921 the magazine was declared obscene and as a result Ulysses was banned in the United States. In 1933, the publisher Random House arranged to import the French edition and have a copy seized by customs when the ship was unloaded, which it then contested. In United States v. One Book Called Ulysses, U.S. District Judge John M. Woolsey ruled on December 6, 1933 that the book was not pornographic and therefore could not be obscene, a decision that has been called "epoch-making" by Stuart Gilbert. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling in 1934.
...and now, disengag’d from the shirt, I saw, with wonder and surprise, what? not the play-thing of a boy, not the weapon of a man, but a maypole of so enormous a standard, that had proportions been observ’d, it must have belong’d to a young giant. Its prodigious size made me shrink again; yet I could not, without pleasure, behold, and even ventur’d to feel, such a length, such a breadth of animated ivory! perfectly well turn’d and fashion’d, the proud stiffness of which distended its skin, whose smooth polish and velvet softness might vie with that of the most delicate of our sex, and whose exquisite whiteness was not a little set off by a sprout of black curling hair round the root, through the jetty sprigs of which the fair skin shew’d as in a fine evening you may have remark’d the clear light ether through the branchwork of distant trees over-topping the summit of a hill: then the broad and blueish-cast incarnate of the head, and blue serpentines of its veins, altogether compos’d the most striking assemblage of figure and colours in nature. In short, it stood an object of terror and delight.
Originally posted by LiveForever8
Whenever i see a book has been banned i am compelled to read it.
What is it 'they' don't want me to know?