Banned and Challenged Books; A Second Home for Many, the Library
La Trobe University library, Bundoora campus, Melbourne, Australia. Wikimedia Commons
Celebrating the Freedom to Read: Sept. 27 — Oct. 3, 2015
"Ulysses by James Joyce was 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 Usenet 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 US 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.
"In 1930, US Customs seized Harvard-bound copies of Candide, Voltaire's critically hailed satire, claiming obscenity. Two Harvard professors defended the work, and it was later admitted in a different edition. In 1944, the US Post Office demanded the omission of Candide from a mailed Concord Books catalog.
"John Cleland's Fanny Hill (also known as Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure) has been frequently suppressed since its initial publication in 1749. This story of a prostitute is known both for its frank sexual descriptions and its parodies of contemporary literature, such as Daniel Defoe's Moll Flanders. The US Supreme Court finally cleared it from obscenity charges in 1966."
— From the University of Pennsylvania Library
The New York Times has recently published an editorial about the New York City libraries: New York City's Libraries Need Money
"The libraries are where poor children learn to read and love literature, where immigrants learn English, where job-seekers hone résumés and cover letters, and where those who lack ready access to the Internet can cross the digital divide. Libraries can be a natural fit for mayoral projects like after-school programs and prekindergarten, and for the city’s justly lauded municipal ID program. They are havens for thinking, dreaming, studying, striving and — for many children and the elderly — simply for staying safe, and out of the heat."
Each year, the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom records hundreds of attempts by individuals and groups to have books removed from libraries shelves and from classrooms. See Frequently Challenged Books for more details.
According to the Office for Intellectual Freedom, at least 46 of the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century have been the target of ban attempts.
The titles below represent banned or challenged books on that list ( see the entire Radcliffe Publishing Course list here). For more information on why these books were challenged, visit challenged classics and the Banned Books Week Web site.
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