What have To Kill A Mockingbird, The Awakening, Huckleberry Finn, and The Hunger Games all have in common? Easy. Besides making the bestsellers list, they have also made the banned books list. And let’s pause this opening for a bit of clarification. Banned Book Week is actually misleading, since books aren’t technically banned anymore–they are challenged, since we all have, at least in the US of A, the ability to procure what we want to read.
Banned Book Week is the annual emphasis that occurs during the last week of September, and serves as a reminder how society, during given points and times in history, get tweaked about what is available to read. However, it is not only in the United States that books have created ire in the powers of say so. Read Tweak happens around the world. For instance:
Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland: Used to be banned in the province of Hunan, China, beginning in 1931 for its portrayal of anthropomorphized animals acting on the same level of complexity as human beings. The censor General Ho Chien believed that attributing human language to animals was an insult to humans. He feared that the book would teach children to regard humans and animals on the same level, which would be “disastrous.”
Then again sometimes banning is not good enough–let’s just burn the bugger and totally purge society’s ability for intellectual discernment. Burned books would include:
- Ulysses, by James Joyce–Burned in the U.S. (1918)
- The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck–Burned by the East St. Louis, IL Public Library (1939)
- The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway–Burned in Nazi bonfires in Germany (1933)
- Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut–Burned in Drake, ND (1973)
Although there haven’t been any recent burnings, Ray Bradbury (rest in peace, Ray, you are missed) foresaw a day when all books would be burned. Not because of poisoned opinion, offended sensibilities, or societal outrage–no, Ray thought books would be burned due to lack of interest. Intellectual thought via the printed page would be overridden by the quest of Jello entertainment(that ubiquitous substance which has form but no true nutrition and is quite similar to most television programming). In the near future Bradbury believed it would be illegal to own or read books so the government created a mockery out the fireman and had him burn books instead of saving that which would burn. The paradox is stunningly brilliant, which is why Bradbury and his insights will be missed.
The book I refer to is, of course, Fahrenheit 451. The delicious and sad irony is that F451 was censored for its language in order for school districts to allow it on reading lists.
This week I will be posting views, trivia, and insights about banning, censoring, and challenging intellectual matter, because it does matter.
Banned Book Week. Read a book and challenge your brain.
- Banned Books (presurfer.blogspot.com)
- Banned Books Week: Celebrate your freedom to read (robbinslibrary.wordpress.com)
- Banned Book Week Needs You! Looking for Host Blogs to Celebrate With Me! (bookjourney.wordpress.com)
- Banned books week 2012 (moosenoose.com)
- Banned (wordsmithsix.wordpress.com)