Last week saw Academic Book Week, and one of the features was the announcement of a public vote to select the most influential banned book. The winner was Darwin's On the Origins of Species.
Here's the full shortlist:
1984 by George Orwell (PRH)
A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller (PRH)
Beloved by Toni Morrison (PRH)
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (PRH)
Country Girls by Edna O’Brien (Faber)
His Dark Materials (series) by Philip Pullman (Scholastic)
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (Virago, Hachette)
Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D H Lawrence (PRH)
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (PRH)
On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (OUP)
Rights of Man by Thomas Paine (OUP)
Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie (PRH)
The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger (PRH)
The Color Purple by Alice Walker (W&N, Orion, Hachette)
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (PRH)
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (PRH)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (PRH)
Ulysses by James Joyce (PRH)
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett (Faber)
Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (PRH)
A few months ago my local library had a special display of books that had been banned in the past. As you'd expect, the selection included Lolita and Lady Chatterley's Lover.
With regard to Lolita, the New Yorker published an article detailing the true story behind it. It's very tragic, and harrowing:
I had no idea that the Wealth of Nations had been banned at one time. On reflection, it was quite a radical departure from the orthodox views at the time (1776).
I wonder which books that are currently banned will be unbanned in the future, and which books now freely available will be classified as “contraband” in the future.