July 12, 2004 3:39 AM   Subscribe

The Forbidden Library.
posted by Gyan (26 comments total)
Where's Waldo? Martin Handford. Little. Challenged at the Public Libraries of Saginaw, Mich. (1989), Removed from the Springs Public School library in East Hampton, N.Y. (1993) because there is a tiny drawing of a woman lying on the beach wearing a bikini bottom but no top. Yes, but did they find Waldo?
posted by tcp at 3:48 AM on July 12, 2004

I was reading this and having a good chuckle until I ran into:

Twelfth Night. William Shakespeare. Airmont; Cambridge Univ. Pr.; Methuen; NAL; Penguin; Pocket Bks.; Washington Square. Removed from a Merrimack, N.H. high school English class (1996) because of a policy that bans instruction which has "the effect of encouraging or supporting homosexuality as a positive lifestyle alternative."

Dude. I mean, dude.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:59 AM on July 12, 2004

The Bible. William Tyndale, who partially completed translating the Bible into English, was captured, strangled, and burned at the stake (1536) by opponents of the movement to translate the bible into the vernacular.

I didn't know this, and it is interesting on many levels. God forbid the common folk would be able to read the bible and interpret it on their own. How many people were literate in 1536? I find it odd he was strangled and then burned at the stake. I can assume then that the strangling didn't kill him?
posted by Eekacat at 4:13 AM on July 12, 2004

eekacat - some think that part of the problem in religion / religious wars has the same root cause - people who can't read the holy books (through inability, or no access to a copy in their language) can only rely on what their leaders tell them is in it. hence "god wants you to hate this specific group of people" and "god wants you to go to the holy land and kill all the people who don't believe like you do" made sense to people, both now and during the crusades.

this list was interesting. i've read quite a few of these, had planned on reading others (i haven't read nearly enough vonnegut yet). was sort of sad to see how many of these had been banned in my home state. lighten up there, michigan...
posted by caution live frogs at 4:35 AM on July 12, 2004

You can find more info at "The Online Books Page" and, of course, the American Library Association on Banned Books.

You'll find the Harry Potter series in the Top 10 of the most challenged.

...shakes head...
posted by fluffycreature at 4:45 AM on July 12, 2004

Brave New World. Aldous Huxley. Harper. Banned in Ireland (1932). Removed from classroom in Miller, Mo. (1980). Challenged at the Yukon, Okla. High School (1988); challenged as required reading in the Corona-Norco, Calif. Unified School District (1993) because the book "centered around negative activity."
So, I guess the same people would like to ban all newspapers, given that it seems most of the news in them is bad?

*shakes head*
posted by dg at 4:52 AM on July 12, 2004

I wonder if Robert A. Heinlein's Time Enough for Love, which deals with incest positively (obligatory rimshot at that one), is on anybody's list. I've come across it in several libraries over the years.
posted by alumshubby at 5:20 AM on July 12, 2004

Confucius. Analects. Dover; Random. The first ruler of the Chin Dynasty ordered all books relating to the teachings of Confucius burned. Oh, and he had hundreds of followers of Confucius buried alive (250 BC).

Ah, the good old days.
posted by sebas at 5:25 AM on July 12, 2004

This site irritates me because of the anachronistic way that it runs so many different examples of censorship together into a single list. The papal censorship of Galileo in 1633 has so little in common with, say, the challenge to The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll by someone in Kentucky in 1982 that it makes little sense to consider them both as part of the same phenomenon.

Tyndale's case is a complex one, but he was actually burned for heresy (= Lutheranism), not for translating the Bible. He was strangled before burning as an act of mercy, to spare him the agony of being burned alive. His English Bible was published under official auspices (with a royal licence from Henry VIII) only a year later.
posted by verstegan at 5:31 AM on July 12, 2004

I wonder how much the webmaster makes with his amazon associate links. It would be nice if the listings were more legible. I found them very difficult to read.
posted by crunchland at 5:41 AM on July 12, 2004

" The Koran. Penguin; Tahrike Tarsil; Quran. Ban lifted by the Spanish Index in 1790."

Well it's about time they lifted that ban against . . . uh, wait, 1790?

Like Crunchland, I'm a little put off by the fact that the whole site feels like one big sales pitch for the amazon links. Not that there's anything wrong with making a buck, but it undermines the supposed purpose of the website. And yes, the web design is a bit . . . crap-ish.
posted by Outlawyr at 6:06 AM on July 12, 2004

So someone in Virginia thinks kids shouldn't read Anne Frank's diary because it is "a real downer." Well, I guess we don't want to "harsh" anybody's "mellow" in English class, do we?

Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul, anyone? (Sorry I didn't Amazonlink that one for y'all.)
posted by kozad at 6:56 AM on July 12, 2004

I think the ALA link, cited above by fluffycreature, is more useful because it's more complete. The Forbidden Library omits authors like Robert Cormier and Judy Blume, whose works are always being challenged.
posted by subgenius at 7:21 AM on July 12, 2004

I'm surprised they missed the more famously banned Shakespearean works such as The Many Wives of Winston; Cor, Real Anus; Love's Labias Lust; Ass - You Like It; Richard, Ai, Ai!; Smack Beth; Tight-Ass Androdgenous; Two Gentlemen of Vagina; Richard, Ai, Ai, Ai!; A Winter's Tail; King Leer; Much Ado About Stuffing; Hamlet; um... The... um... Slamming of Tush, Woo... possibly... um...
posted by Pretty_Generic at 7:37 AM on July 12, 2004

I got a laugh out of the ALA link. A past president of the ALA is my stepson's aunt. A few years back he was into "Captain Underpants" titles and shared them with her. . . and now Captain Underpants is on the ALA's Banned Book Week Logo.

Even a 7-year-old can have unforseen impact in this wonderful country!
posted by ahimsakid at 7:50 AM on July 12, 2004

The ALA link has a nice list, but the explanations aren't part of the list, nor any description of the books (on the 100 most challenged books). I too was curious about Heinlein, and did not find him on the 100 list. Perhaps he's too dated.
posted by Goofyy at 7:58 AM on July 12, 2004

My Friend Flicka. Mary O'Hara. Harper; Lippincott. Removed from fifth and sixth grade optional reading lists in Clay County, Fla. schools (1990) because the book uses the word "bitch" to refer to a female dog
Just as well there's no male chickens in there...
posted by etc at 8:13 AM on July 12, 2004

Censorship is [expletive deleted].
posted by spazzm at 8:25 AM on July 12, 2004

Always left off these lists are titles like Hitler's Mein Kampf (Canada's biggest bookstore chain, Chapters/Indigo, won't sell it under a directive from the company's de facto owner), The Turner Diaries (written and published in 1978 by William Pierce, leader of the neo-nazi National Alliance), and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Hate speech all, yes, but speech nonetheless, and banned in various places. And I'm sure such works as Understanding Loved Boys and Boylovers and Daddy: an erotic memoir will not be found in most school and public libraries.
posted by tranquileye at 9:41 AM on July 12, 2004

Always left off these lists are titles like Hitler's Mein Kampf (Canada's biggest bookstore chain, Chapters/Indigo, won't sell it under a directive from the company's de facto owner), The Turner Diaries (written and published in 1978 by William Pierce, leader of the neo-nazi National Alliance), and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

My thinking about this is that the type of people who would care about banning these in the US aren't the type of people who back banning books. I know for sure that Mein Kampf and the Turner Diaries are available through most major bookstores and I've seen Mein Kampf in high school libraries.

Whenever anyone orders the Turner Diaries from work, I get this creepy feeling in my spine.
posted by drezdn at 10:19 AM on July 12, 2004

Re: the anachronistic nature of the list. This, IMO, is one of its strengths, in that it grants no special status to modern censorship, but rather puts it on the same (base) level with the more famous historical acts of limitation of freedom of expression. It says "this is still going on".
posted by signal at 11:12 AM on July 12, 2004

Reading this list, I noticed two things: how many of these books I read and loved as a child, and how many of these books have been banned in my current residence of central Florida.

"Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it."
-- Mark Twain

Love it!
posted by ScarletSpectrum at 12:37 PM on July 12, 2004

Mark Twain is awesome. Nice quote ScarletSpectrum.
posted by Eekacat at 1:42 PM on July 12, 2004

And in the news today - Fire department bans book burning

[Reverend] Breedlove said a city fire inspector suggested shredding the offending material, but Breedlove said that wouldn't seem biblical.

"I joked with the guy that St. Paul never had to worry about fire codes," Breedlove said.

posted by fluffycreature at 3:58 PM on July 12, 2004

got my new reading list.
posted by memnock at 5:56 PM on July 12, 2004

Memnock-- you could do worse. Odd thing about censors. They seem to have excellent taste. Seldom do I read about a book being banned that I don't want to read.

I'm a little frustrated with these incomplete bibliographies. I felt like they googled a few books left over on the remainder shelves, and then spent all their time designing a swank site. It's great, but there are some even better references out there

For those of you who would like to read more banned fiction I highly recommend Pen International, which supports writers and publishes some of the most interesting journals anywhere.
Azenphony publishes a whole series that is a must for any reference collection.

I would like to recommend Postcards from abroad : memories of Pen : poets, playwrights, editors, essayists and novelists by Elizabeth Paterson, but I haven't read it yet. It's supposed to be excellent.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:23 PM on July 12, 2004

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