Banned Authors on My Shelf

Definition:

Book banning, a form of censorship, occurs when private individuals, government officials, or organizations remove books from libraries, school reading lists, or bookstore shelves because they object to their content, ideas, or themes.

Now that we have established a definition the following are authors on my shelf whose works have been challenged or banned. In looking these up and reading about censorship in general I’m saddened by the current on going list of challenged and banned books of today. What I meant this little write up to be and what it became of course are of two different worlds. The following six books are on my shelf, I’m also adding in links to the current challenged/banned books of today. My two cents from looking at these authors, write what you know, ‘speak the truth and shame the devil’ which is a line of dialog that I picked up from English author Colin Dexter most notably known for his Inspector Morse series. We need stories about war, race, poverty, grief, corruption, love, sex, and the experience of living.

Banned Authors on My Shelf     

Kate Chopin (1850-1904)

American Author

The Awakening 1899

The famous tale of Edna Pontellier, who leaves her family, commits adultery, and begins to rediscover her true self as an artist. Such an awakening is not easy, nor is it socially acceptable. A daring portrayal of a woman trapped in a stifling marriage, who seeks and finds passionate physical love outside the confines of her domestic situation.

“The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation. The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.”The Awakening

The book was criticized for being immoral and scandalous. After this novel was met with such scathing reviews, Chopin never wrote another novel. “The Awakening” is now considered an important work in feminist literature. 

“The delicious breath of rain was in the air.”-Kate Chopin

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)

American Novelist

The Great Gatsby 1925

Set in the Jazz Age on Long Island, the novel depicts narrator Nick Carraway’s interactions with mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby and Gatsby’s obsession to reunite with his former lover, Daisy Buchanan. The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s. It covers themes of the american dream, class, gender relations, race, environment and antisemitism.   

“He smiled understandingly-much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced–or seemed to face–the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.”The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby was banned and challenged at the Baptist College in Charleston, SC in 1987 because of “language and sexual references in the book”. 

“Show me a hero, and I’ll write you a tragedy.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald

Henry Miller (1891-1980)

American Writer

Tropic of Cancer (1934)

The book largely functions as an immersive meditation on the human condition. As a struggling writer, Miller describes his experience living among a community of bohemians in Paris, where he intermittently suffers from hunger, homelessness, squalor, loneliness, and despair over his recent separation from his wife.

“Paris is like a whore. From a distance she seems ravishing, you can’t wait until you have her in your arms. And five minutes later you feel empty, disgusted with yourself. You feel tricked.” Tropic of Cancer 

In 1938, the U.S. Government banned Henry Miller’s novel Tropic of Cancer, saying it dealt too explicitly with his sexual adventures and challenged models of sexual morality. To further drive the point home, the government went on to ban all of Miller’s works from entering the United States. In 1961, the ban was lifted, but his work continued to be labeled obscene by the Citizens for Decent Literature. “Tropic of Cancer” (1934) along with the follow-up “Tropic of Capricorn” (1939) are the most controversial of Henry Miller’s works due to their sexually explicit content. The books are an autobiographical account of a poor expatriate living in France during the early 1930s. With no real narrative plot, the novels follow the everyday life of the narrator. What make both works so controversial are the numerous sexual encounters that are depicted with shocking and unprecedented detail and frankness.

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” -Henry Miller

Norman Mailer (1923-2007)

American Novelist 

the Naked and the Dead 1948

The story takes place on Anopopei, a fictional island somewhere in the South Pacific. American forces are faced with a campaign to drive out the Japanese so that Americans can advance into the Philippines. The novel focuses on the experiences of one platoon. It covers themes of: dehumanization of soldiers, loneliness, death, power, homosexualty, brotherhood, and masculinity. Mailer was asked to not use the word Fuck, so he chaned every Fuck to Fug, at the publishers request.    

“Everything was damp and rife and hot as though the jungle were an immense collection of oily rags growing hotter and hotter under the dark stifling vaults of a huge warehouse. Heat licked at everything, and the foliage, responding, grew to prodigious sizes. In the depths, in the heat and the moisture, it was never silent. The birds cawed, the small animals and occasional snakes rustled and squealed, and beneath it all was a hush, almost palpable, in which could be heard the rapt absorbed sounds of vegetation growing.” the Naked and the Dead 

In 1949, the book was banned in Canada and Australia – ostensibly for language, though Mailer was also mocked for his use of the word “fug” as a replacement for the more typical expletive. In Canada the book was banned by the Minister of National Revenue, who thought the book was “disgusting” (he hadn’t read it).

“If a person is not talented enough to be a novelist, not smart enough to be a lawyer, and his hands are too shaky to perform operations, he becomes a journalist. ” -Norman Mailer

Truman Capote (1924-1984)

American Novelist

In Cold Blood 1966

A true account of a multiple murder and its consequences. Called a ‘nonfiction novel’ by Capote. On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered. Capote learned of the quadruple murder before the killers were captured, and he traveled to Kansas to write about the crime. He was accompanied by his childhood friend and fellow author Harper Lee, and they interviewed residents and investigators assigned to the case and took thousands of pages of notes. It took Capote six years to complete In Cold Blood.

“Imagination, of course, can open any door—turn the key and let terror walk right in.”In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood is banned because of the violence, sex, and profanity in the book. The book is about a murder that takes place where four people are murdered. Author, Truman Capote, goes into graphic detail about the murders and the actions of the murders. This book is mainly challenged by parents because they view that their children are not mature enough to handle the content.

“You can’t blame a writer for what the characters say.” -Truman Capote

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (1922-2007)

American Writer

Slaughterhouse-Five 1969  

Follows the life and experiences of Billy Pilgrim, from his early years to his time as an American soldier and chaplain’s assistant during World War II, to the post-war years, with Billy occasionally traveling through time. The text centers on Billy’s capture by the German Army and his survival of the Allied firebombing of Dresden as a prisoner of war, an experience which Vonnegut himself lived through as an American serviceman. The work has been called an example of “unmatched moral clarity” and “one of the most enduring anti-war novels of all time”. It covers themes of war, death, mental illness, religion and philosophy.

“All this happened, more or less.”Slaughterhouse-Five

Slaughterhouse-Five was variously challenged, banned and burned across the United States from 1972 onward, and most recently in 2007. The book was banned in Levittown, New York in 1975, North Jackson, Ohio, in 1979, and Lakeland, Florida, in 1982 for its “explicit sexual scenes, violence, and obscene language.” Slaughterhouse-Five was challenged as recently as 2007 in a school district in Howell, Michigan because the book contained “strong sexual content.” Upon reviewing the book, the county prosecutor concluded, “After reading the books in question, it is clear that the explicit passages illustrated a larger literary, artistic or political message and were not included solely to appeal to the prurient interests of minors.” A conclusion we can only suspect must have horrified Mr. Vonnegut.

“If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:

THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED

FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD

WAS MUSIC” -Kurt Vonnegut Jr. 

I also highly recommend reading:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18693899-the-most-dangerous-book?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=d60Q9Q20UZ&rank=1

Top 10 Banned and Challenged books 2001-2020

http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/top10

One comment

  1. Lee Hall · May 16, 2021

    Reblogged this on Lee's Hall of information and commented:
    Happy Sunday friends. Today I am re-blogging a fellow author and blogger’s post about some books. Enjoy…

    Like

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