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Banned books

Parent categories: censorship - banned - books

Genres most frequently banned: cult fiction - erotic fiction - "transgressive" fiction

Related: Anthony Comstock - Index Librorum Prohibitorum

Book burning, May 10, 1933, Berlin


Many societies have banned certain books. This is a partial list of books which have been banned by some organisation at some place and time.

Various scriptures have been banned (and sometimes burned) at several points in history. The Bible, the Qur'an, and the Torah have all been subjected to censorship and have been banned in various cities and countries.

Books dealing with criminal matter have also been subjected to censorship. Small-press titles that have become infamous due to their being banned include The Anarchist Cookbook, E for Ecstasy, and Hit Man. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_banned_books [Sept 2004]

List of authors on the index

This is a list of authors whose work has been on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum. The quantity of the work per author varies from complete works to one title.

The Index by the Catholic church is a handy tool for hedonists, pointing them towards to hidden thoughts and unknown sensations. In fact, any such list is helpful in seeking out special works of art. See for example the list of banned books by the Nazi government in pre-war Germany.

Alberto Moravia - Alexandre Dumas fils - Alexandre Dumas - Anatole France - Andre Gide - Andrew Lang - Balzac - Baruch Spinoza - Benedetto Croce] Bishop Berkeley - Blaise Pascal - Casanova - Condillac - Condorcet - d'Alembert - Daniel Defoe - David Hume - De Stael - Denis Diderot - Descartes - d'Holbach - Edward Gibbon - Emanuel Swedenborg - Emile Zola - Erasmus - Ernest Renan - Eugene Sue - Francis Bacon - Gabriele D'Annunzio - George Sand - Gustave Flaubert - Heinrich Heine - Helvétius - Henri Bergson - Honore de Balzac - Immanuel Kant - Jean Paul Sartre - Jean-Jacques Rousseau - John Calvin - John Milton - John Stuart Mill - Jonathan Swift - Joseph Addison - La Fontaine - La Mettrie - Laurence Stern - Maeterlinck - Malebranche - Michel de Montaigne - Montaigne - Montesquieu - Nicholas Machiavelli - Oliver Goldsmith - Pascal - Pierre Abélard - Rabelais - Rene Descartes - Richard Simon - Richard Steel - Sade - Samuel Richardson - Stendhal - Swedenborg - Thomas Hobbes - Victor Hugo - Voltaire

See also: Christianity - forbidden - books - cult fiction - cultural criticism - Index Prohibitorum

Book burning

Book burning is the practice of ceremoniously destroying by fire one or more copies of a book or other written material. In modern times other forms of media, such as gramophone records, CDs and video tapes, have also been ceremoniously burned or shredded. The practice, often carried out publicly, is usually motivated by moral, political or religious objections to the material. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_burning [Feb 2005]

One instance of book burning, not mentioned in the wikipedia, is disco demolition night in the USA, 1979. [Feb 2005]

List of banned authors during the Third Reich

These authors are a selection from the prohibitions lists during the Nazi Third Reich and come from the following lists and others:

The official list was published by the Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda. Authors were placed on the list because of Jewish decent, or because of pacifist or communist sympathies or suspicision thereof. Dead authors also appeared on the list.

In May and June 1933, in the first year of the Nazi government, there were open book burnings. These book bans compose a part of the history of censorship and a subset of the list of banned books.

A - Alfred Adler - Hermann Adler - Max Adler - Raoul Auernheimer - - B - Otto Bauer - Vicki Baum - Johannes R. Becher - Richard Beer-Hofmann - Walter Benjamin - Walter A. Berendsohn - Ernst Bloch - Felix Braun - Josef Braunthal - Bertolt Brecht - Willi Bredel - Hermann Broch - Ferdinand Bruckner - - C - - D - Alfred Döblin - John Dos Passos - - E - Kasimir Edschmid - Albert Ehrenstein - Albert Einstein - Carl Einstein - Friedrich Engels - - F - Lion Feuchtwanger - Marieluise Fleißer - Wilhelm Friedrich Foerster - Leonhard Frank - Anna Freud - Sigmund Freud - Egon Friedell - Salomo Friedlaender - - G - André Gide - Claire Goll - Oskar Maria Graf - George Grosz - - H - Ferdinand Hardekopf - Jakob Haringer - Jaroslav Hašek - Walter Hasenclever - Raoul Hausmann - Max Herrmann-Neisse - Franz Hessel - Magnus Hirschfeld - Jakob van Hoddis - Ödön von Horvath - I - Vera Inber - - J - Hans Henny Jahnn - Georg Jellinek - Franz Jung - - K - Erich Kästner - Franz Kafka - Georg Kaiser - Mascha Kaleko - Alfred Kantorowicz - Karl Kautsky - Hans Kelsen - Alfred Kerr - Hermann Kesten - Irmgard Keun - Klabund - Alma J. Koenig - Annette Kolb - Gertrud Kolmar - Paul Kornfeld - Siegfried Kracauer - Theodor Kramer - Karl Kraus - Adam Kuckhoff - - L - Else Lasker-Schüler - Lenin - Hubertus Prinz zu Löwenstein - Ernst Lothar - Emil Ludwig - Rosa Luxemburg - - M - André Malraux - Heinrich Mann - Klaus Mann - Thomas Mann - Hans Marchwitza - Ludwig Marcuse - Karl Marx - Walter Mehring - Gustav Meyrink - Erich Mühsam - Robert Musil - - N - Alfred Neumann - Robert Neumann - - O - Carl von Ossietzky - Karl Otten - Ernst Ottwalt - - P - Hertha Pauli - Kurt Pinthus - Adelheid Popp - - Q - R - Fritz Reck-Malleczewen - Erik Reger - Gustav Regler - Wilhelm Reich - Erich Maria Remarque - Karl Renner - Joachim Ringelnatz - Joseph Roth - - S - Nelly Sachs - Felix Salten - Rahel Sanzara - Arno Schirokauer - Arthur Schnitzler - Anna Seghers - Walter Serner - Ignazio Silone - Wilhelm Speyer - Rudolf Steiner - Carl Sternheim - - T - Adrienne Thomas - Ernst Toller - Friedrich Torberg - Bruno Traven - Leon Trotsky - Karl Tschuppik - Kurt Tucholsky - - U - Z - Jakob Wassermann - Armin T. Wegner - Ernst Weiß - Franz Werfel - Eugen Gottlob Winkler - Friedrich Wolf - Paul Zech - Carl Zuckmayer - Arnold Zweig - Stefan Zweig
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_banned_authors_during_the_Third_Reich [Sept 2005]

See also: 1930s - Germany

Lady Chatterley's Lover, Tropic of Cancer, and Fanny Hill

In the United States in the years 1959 through 1966, bans on three books with explicit erotic content were challenged and overturned.

Prior to this time, a patchwork of regulations (as well as local customs and vigilante actions) governed what could and could not be published. For example, it was the U. S. Customs authority that "banned" James Joyce's Ulysses by refusing its importation into the country. The Roman Catholic Church's Index Librorum Prohibitorum carried great weight among Catholics and amounted to an effective and instant boycott of any book appearing on it. Boston's Watch and Ward Society, a largely Protestant creation inspired by Anthony Comstock, made "banned in Boston" a national by-word.

In 1959, Grove Press published an unexpurgated version of Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence. The U. S. Post Office confiscated copies sent through the mail. Lawyer Charles Rembar sued the New York city postmaster and won in New York and then on federal appeal.

Henry Miller's 1934 novel, Tropic of Cancer, had explicit sexual passages and could not be published in the United States; an edition was printed by the Obelisk Press in Paris and copies were smuggled into the United States. (As of 2003, used book dealers asked $7500 and up for copies of this edition.) In 1961, Grove Press issued a copy of the work and lawsuits were brought against dozens of individual booksellers in many states for selling it. The issue was ultimately settled in the by the U. S. Supreme Court's 1973 decision in Miller v. California. In this decision, the court defined obscenity by what is now called the Miller test. The Wikipedia article on pornography notes that "In the United States, hardcore pornography is legal unless it meets the Miller test of obscenity, which it almost never does."

In 1965, Putnam published John Cleland's 1750 novel Fanny Hill. This was the turning point, because Charles Rembar appealed a restraining order against it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and won. In Memoirs v. Massachusetts, 383 U.S. 413, the court ruled that sex was "a great and mysterious motive force in human life," and that its expression in literature was protected by the First Amendment. Only books primarily appealing to "prurient interest" could be banned. In a famous phrase, the court said that obscenity is "utterly without redeeming social importance"—meaning that, conversely, any work with redeeming social importance was not obscene, even if it contained isolated passages that could "deprave and corrupt" some readers.

This decision was especially significant, because, of the three books mentioned, Fanny Hill has by far the largest measure of content that seems to appeal to prurient interest, and the smallest measures of literary merit and "redeeming social importance." Whereas an expurgated version of Lady Chatterley's Lover had actually once been published, no expurgated version of Fanny Hill has ever been (and it difficult even to imagine what such a work could possibly consist of).

By permitting the publication of Fanny Hill, the Supreme Court set the bar for any ban so high that Rembar himself called the 1966 decision "the end of obscenity." --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_revolution [Oct 2004]

Index Librorum Prohibitorum or The Index [...]

The censorship of books developed by the Roman Catholic church remains an outstanding example in Christendom of long lasting and comprehensive religious censorship, at times ruthlessly acted upon by the Roman Inquisition.

In order to fend off a heretical threat to Christian doctrine, Creeds such as the Nicene Creed promulgated in AD 325, were devised. In ca. 496 AD Pope Gelasius I issued a decree containing lists of recommended as well as banned books, generally regarded as the first Roman Index. However, the church's concern for dangerous books is evident well before 496 AD. --http://www.beaconforfreedom.org/about_database/index_librorum.html [Jan 2005]

Books Suppressed or Censored by Legal Authorities

Ulysses by James Joyce was recently selected by the Modern Library as the best novel of the 20th century, and has received wide praise from other literature scholars, including those who have defended online censorship. (Carnegie Mellon English professor and vice-provost Erwin Steinberg, who praised the book in 1994, also defended CMU's declaration that year to delete alt.sex and some 80 other newsgroups, claiming they were legally obligated to do so.) Ulysses was barred from the United States as obscene for 15 years, and was seized by U.S Postal Authorities in 1918 and 1930. The lifting of the ban in 1933 came only after advocates fought for the right to publish the book. --John Mark Ockerbloom via http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/banned-books.html [Jan 2005]

Fahrenheit 451 (1966) - François Truffaut

  1. Fahrenheit 451 (1966) - François Truffaut [Amazon.com]
    The classic science fiction novel by Ray Bradbury was a curious choice for one of the leading directors of the French New Wave, François Truffaut. But from the opening credits onward (spoken, not written on screen), Truffaut takes Bradbury's fascinating premise and makes it his own. The futuristic society depicted in Fahrenheit 451 is a culture without books. Firemen still race around in red trucks and wear helmets, but their job is to start fires: they ferret out forbidden stashes of books, douse them with gasoline, and make public bonfires. Oskar Werner, the star of Truffaut's Jules and Jim, plays a fireman named Montag, whose exposure to David Copperfield wakens an instinct toward reading and individual thought. (That's why books are banned--they give people too many ideas.) In an intriguing casting flourish, Julie Christie plays two roles: Montag's bored, drugged-up wife and the woman who helps kindle the spark of rebellion. The great Bernard Herrmann wrote the hard-driving music; Nicolas Roeg provided the cinematography. Fahrenheit 451 received a cool critical reception and has never quite been accepted by Truffaut fans or sci-fi buffs. Its deliberately listless manner has always been a problem, although that is part of its point; the lack of reading has made people dry and empty. If the movie is a bit stiff (Truffaut did not speak English well and never tried another project in English), it nevertheless is full of intriguing touches, and the ending is lyrical and haunting. --Robert Horton for amazon.com


  1. Banned Books (1978) - Anne Haight [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

  2. 100 Banned Books: Censorship Histories of World Literature - Nicholas J. Karolides [Amazon.com]
    Scheduled for publication during Banned Books Week (September 25, 1999-October 2, 1999), this reference gives extensive insight into titles that historically have faced a high rate of censorship, both in the United States and abroad. The text is arranged in four sections, with titles divided by the main groundsApolitical, religious, sexual, and socialAfor censorship. Introductory notes for each section define what the book's authors mean by that type of suppression and summarize its history. Each title is identified by author, date and place of original publication, publisher, and literary form, and each entry includes a comprehensive summary of the text. These summaries are followed by a full censorship history and suggested "Further Readings" sections directing readers to accessible sources of additional information. By limiting the texts under consideration to 100, the authors are able to provide highly detailed accounts of each title's censorship history in what is surely the most exhaustive single-volume reference available. A valuable tool for those seeking information on particular banned books or on censorship in general; recommended for public and academic libraries. [This book is an adaptation of Facts on File's four-volume "Banned Books," LJ 6/1/98.AEd.]--Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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