Opinion, World

Must Read Banned Books – Part I: The Classics

Whether it is a scandalous scene, a reference to homosexuality or even a discussion of radical ideas, people have fought court cases to ban some of the world’s most famous literary work.

Banned Books

These literary works are a few of many that have inspired the masses, created revolutions, and upheavals. They are the cause of transformation all around the world. Then again, since the beginning, the books are regularly banned if they do not fit the mold of the current mindset of the society. Here are the Top 4 banned books turned classic literature, that should be read once in a lifetime.

1. 1984

by George Orwell

“I enjoy talking to you. Your mind appeals to me. It resembles my own mind except that you happen to be insane.”

It is somewhat ironic and fitting that a book with the major theme of censorship would join the banned books lists. One of the most challenged books in the American Library Association’s lists, 1984 was an immediate success.

Chronicling the grim future of society without free will, truth or privacy, 1984 was a satire based on Stalin and his governance in Russia (then the Soviet Union). It was banned as soon as it was published in the Soviet Union in 1950 and was not released after editing in 1990. It was almost banned in the USA and UK as well during the Cuban Missile Crisis in the early 1960s.

2. Animal Farm

by George Orwell

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Reflecting the events of Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Stalinist era in the Soviet Union, Animal Farm’s status as a banned book lasted past the fall of the Berlin Wall.

An allegorical novella with talking animals that revolt against their drunken master. Written during the wartime alliance between Britain and the Soviet Union, the British people held Stalin in high esteem. However, Orwell made sure that his aversion towards Stalin was documented in his novella.

Though, rejected numerous times by both British as well as American publishers, the book was finally published and immediately banned in the Soviet Union and other communist countries. In 2002, the book was still banned in the United Arab Emirates as it contained anthropomorphic pigs and various text passages that “go against the values of Islam”. Along with the United Arab Emirates, the book is still banned in North Korea and censored in Vietnam.

3. The Handmaid’s Tale

by Margaret Atwood

“A rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays inside the maze.”

A dystopian novel set in a fascist American state where Christian theonomy has overthrown the democratic government. It works with themes of women subjugation, brutality and women’s hatred for females. Atwood’s novel has been continuously challenged by parents and school authorities alike who feel that the story is too brutal to be included in the curriculum.

A few of these complaints include:

“Being too explicit for students, having profanity, lurid passages about sex, and statements defamatory to minorities, God, women, and the disabled and being rife with brutality towards women.”

A school education board in Texas has banned the book as it was sexually explicit and offensive to Christians.

4. The Anarchist Cookbook

by William Powell

“Power is not a material possession that can be given, it is the ability to act. Power must be taken, it is never given.”

A 1971 classic cult, The Anarchist Cookbook, angered not only the government but the anarchists as well.

Quite some radical groups came forward and denounced the book revealing that the book had twisted the ideals of radicals. CrimethInc later released a book with the same name to let the world know about actual anarchist ideas.

Other critics wanted to ban the book as it contained dangerously inaccurate bomb making recipes.

Older and wiser Powell tried to ban his work and denounced it by calling it a “product of my adolescent anger at the prospect of being drafted and sent to Vietnam to fight in a war that I did not believe in.”

Banned or not, these books are definitely on my to-be-read pile. After all, one’s man trash can be another man’s treasure!

To be continued in Part II: Religion and Politics