Auckland Libraries: Try a banned book

Try a banned book

Calling attention to banned books emphasises the importance of freedom of expression.

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Alice's adventures in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll

Book

Lewis Carroll’s logic-challenging fairy tale was banned in 1931 by the Governor of Hunan Province in China due to its portraying animals as having the same degree of complexity as humans.

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Madame Bovary

Gustave Flaubert

Book

When his “tale of provincial ways” (and provincial adultery) came out in 1857, Flaubert was tried for offense to public morals. He was acquitted, but the book went on the Vatican’s Index Librorum Prohibitorum . Its English publisher went to prison.

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The grapes of wrath

John Steinbeck

Book

Kern County in California, the setting for Steinbeck’s 1939 novel depicting the harsh working conditions of the American poor during the Depression, banned the book. It was banned for obscenity in many countries, including New Zealand (until 1964).

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Beloved

Toni Morrison

Book

Inspired by a true story, Morrison's 1987 novel tells the story of an escaped slave trying to build a life but haunted by trauma. It was banned from a number of secondary school libraries in the US because of mentions of bestiality, racism and sex.

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The call of the wild

Jack London

Book

This arctic survival tale by the socialist Jack London was banned along with his other books in Europe’s fascist dictatorships. In Italy, only low-cost editions were banned; it was evidently thought unlikely that wealthy classes would be led astray.

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The country girls

Edna O'Brien

Book

Edna O’Brien’s first novel, published in 1960, was banned in Ireland for its sexual content. It became a symbol of the struggle for Irish women’s voices to be heard in an ultra-conservative, ultra-religious and institutionally misogynistic society.

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The sorrows of young Werther

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Book

When this novella was published in 1774 it quickly attained cult status, with its typical Romantic hero whose extreme passion leads to self-destruction. It was condemned by the Lutheran Church and banned in Denmark, Germany and Italy.

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The unbearable lightness of being

Milan Kundera

Book

When the Soviets invaded his country of Czechoslovakia, Kundera’s books were banned from libraries and his new books from publication. They remained banned until 1989, when the Velvet Revolution toppled the Communist regime.

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Candide, or, Optimism

Voltaire

Book

Written in 1759, this satirical novella takes on religion, government and the prevailing philosophical views. It was placed on the Vatican’s Index Librorum Prohibitorum and banned in many parts of the world as blasphemous, seditious and immoral.

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The dark road

Jian Ma

Book

Ma Jian established himself as the Solzhenitsyn of China with his novel inspired by the Tiananmen protests, "Beijing Coma". Here the theme is the human cost of China's one child policy. Ma Jian now lives in London; all his works are banned in China.

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