It’s Banned Book week, and at least in the US we do mostly silly bans–we haven’t gotten to the point of throwing writers in Jail (yet). Amnesty International has a list of those who have had not just their words banned, but their lives. There’s also an excellent post on why this week matters over at Everybodyslibraries.com with a good summary:
“Banned Books Week is thus about twin freedoms: the freedom to write about what matters to you, and the freedom to read about what matters to you.”
But I like the quote from Philip Pullman best: “Destroying intellectual freedom is always evil, but only religion makes doing evil feel quite so good.”
A list of books banned at some point within the US includes some of my favorites:
A Wrinkle in Timeby Madeleine L’Engle
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Fanny Hill(Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure) by John Cleland
My Friend Flicka by Mary O’Hara
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
And then some how this shows up on the list: Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary by the Merriam-Webster Editorial Staff. Okay, what was someone thinking–smutty words? Diabolical definitions? I do love the idea that it’s not even the ideas, but the words themselves that somehow present a danger to young minds. (I am a dictionary junkie myself — I have four at home, including an OED.) And somehow it’s fitting that there is book on book banning, Banned in the U.S.A.
So I say live dangerously and buy and read a banned book this week.