10 Classic Books That Were Once Banned

In January of this year, a school board in Tennessee decided that banning the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel ‘Maus’ by Art Spiegelman was a good idea. To say this school board was misguided is far too friendly of an understatement. This tale of the holocaust in a way that truly resonates with high school readers both in content, style of storytelling, and by telling the brutal tale without censoring it for young adults outside of putting it in a graphic novel format.

The story tells the experience of Spiegelman’s parents, and I believe is one of the most influential tales of our time and got me thinking about other stories that have been banned over the years.

In today’s society, it seems as if there is always something that is being banned. This usually happens with things that some people deem as being inappropriate, violent, or simply not suitable for general consumption. However, there have been times in history when certain books have been banned from circulation completely. In this article, we are going to take a look at some of the most famous books that have been banned over the years.

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1. The Grapes of Wrath

The Grapes of Wrath is one of classic novels written by John Steinback. The fiction novel was about peasant farmers forced to leave home from Oklahoma to California because of economic hardships. The story earned the author both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Some people believed that it promoted Communist values as it spread throughout America. The novel was burned in 1939 by the East St.Louis, IL Public Library and barred in NY public library in the same year because the author used vulgar words. The book was banned in Kansas City in 1939. The Grapes of Wrath was also banned in Kern County, California.

Available from Amazon.

2. The Call of the Wild

This classic novel was banned in Italy for encouraging revolutionary. Jack London wrote the book, and it was a thrilling adventure novel. The Nazis burned the book because of Jack’s liberal affiliations. The classic book tells the story of Buck, a domestic dog kidnapped from his home. “The classic tale of a dog’s heroic adventures in the frozen Yukon, and inspiration for the major motion picture starring Harrison Ford.” (The book was better, folks.)

Published in 1903, this timeless tale still resonates with readers everywhere.

Available from Amazon.

3. Ulysses

It was one of the essential classic books of the 20th century. However, the fiction book was deemed indecent for its sexual content and language. James Joyce wrote the novel. In 1921, the New York Society ensured to keep the classic book out of the United States and the post office by often burning copies of the book. The book’s publisher initiated the petition to the court about the ban imposed on the book, and the court ruled in his favour.

“In the past, Ulysses has been labeled dirty, blasphemous, and even unreadable. None of these adjectives, however, do the slightest justice to the novel. To this day it remains the modernist masterpiece, in which the author takes both Celtic lyricism and vulgarity to splendid extremes. It is funny, sorrowful, and even (in a close-focus sort of way) suspenseful. And despite the exegetical industry that has sprung up in the last 75 years, Ulysses is also a compulsively readable book.”

Available on Amazon.

4. Lolita

Lolita was a novel about a middle-aged literature professor obsessed with a twelve-year-old girl who later became his stepdaughter. Vladimir Nabokov wrote the fiction, and it was released in 1955. The responses from people about the book after its release was majorly negative. Several countries such as South Africa, France, New Zealand, England, and Argentina banned the book for being indecent. Canada banned the book in 1958 and then lifted the ban due to a classic piece of literature.

Available on Amazon.

5. The Giver

The Giver was Lois Lowry’s novel of 1993. The fiction book was about a state of suffering and injustices (dystopia) masquerading as a desirable state(utopia). The book was banned in the United States in many States, including Kentucky and California. The Giver was prohibited from addressing issues of mercy killing, among others.

The novel would go on to win Newbery Medal and was followed up with three companion pieces.

Available on Amazon.

6. The Animal Farm

George Orwell is the author of the novel that is often described as one of the greatest political works of the 20th century. The classic book was banned in Yugoslavia in 1946. It was also banned in Kenya in 1991, and it was refused in the Arab Emirates in 2002. Groups in Germany seized the book. The novel was banned from Bay County in 4 middle schools and three high schools in Panama.
The ministry of education banned the novel because it contained illustrated or written content that contradicts the Arab and Islamic principles and values.

Available on Amazon.

7. The Sun Also Rises

Ernest Hemingway wrote a fiction story om 1926 that ended up banned in multiple states and countries. The book was banned in Boston in 1930. Ireland banned the book in 1953, San Jose, CA, in 1960, and Riverside, CA, also in 1960. The book was burned during the Nazi bonfires in Germany because it was believed that it would lead to a revolution.

From war to the sexuality of the 1920s, this release covers a lot of topics that are still considered risque to some.

Available on Amazon.

8. All Quiet on the Western Front

Erich Maria Remarque, a german veteran of world war I, wrote the novel in 1929. Still being adapted today as it is soon coming to Netflix, the story has had a long and controversial history behind it.
The book gave an account of the severe physical stress and mental health issues the soldiers encountered during the war. The book’s perspective on realism was not embraced by leaders of the Nazi regime, who were afraid because the novel stopped their propaganda beliefs and efforts.

Available on Amazon.

9. As I Lay Dying.

As I Lay, Dying was among the banned books by most schools in America. This would go down to be William Faulkner’s most controversial writing, and one of his most well known. One of the schools that banned the book was Graves County, located in Mayfield, Kentucky, which disagreed with the author’s beliefs about Christianity. The school refused the book because it believed that it would confuse students about Christianity and raise many questions about God because it was a religious-based school.

Available on Amazon.

10. The Catcher in the Rye

The novel was published in 1951, and its target audience was teenagers. J.D. Salinger wrote the book that generations of school students would end up reading outside of the areas which had banned it. The story has been targeted by censors ever since it was published. Freeport High School in De Funiak Springs in Florida banned the book in 1985 because of its indecency and inappropriate language. The book was further banned in California by Boron high school in 1989 because of its vulgar language.

Available on Amazon.

These 10 are but a drop in the bucket for books that have been banned over the years and are clearly all classics in their own right. The banning of the graphic novel Maus earlier this year only shows that this trend is still continuing in today’s society and is a matter that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

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