He did this to maintain control over how history would remember his rule, which culminated in 213 BC when the great Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang buried 460 intellectuals alive before burning all of the books in his empire. Of course, since no books or academics were remaining to chronicle the occurrence, the precise circumstances of this storey continue to be a source of contention.
But the point is that, for as long as books have existed, there have been some who have attempted to prevent others from reading them. Indeed, by 1982, there were so many books being challenged in the United States that various free-speech organisations teamed together to establish Banned Books Week, which runs from September 22nd to September 28th each year.
Many factors might contribute to the decision to prohibit a book from being published. If a book is banned for whatever reason, a kind of mystique is built about it that, more often than not, attracts readers who want to determine for themselves if the work is, in fact, inappropriate for public consumption.
Here’s a list of banned books that must be read by our generation. So, let’s begin!
Most Banned Books List
1. Ulysses By James Joyce
For more than a decade since its serial release in 1918–20, James Joyce’s Ulysses has teetered on the precipice between obscenity and brilliance. The novel, which follows the day in the lives of struggling artist Stephen Dedalus, Jewish advertising executive Leopold Bloom, and Leopold’s cuckolding wife Molly Bloom, was met with approval by Joyce’s Modernist contemporaries, such as Ernest Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, and Ezra Pound, and disdain by anti-obscenity activists in English-speaking countries.
Following the publication of a section from Ulysses in which the main character indulged himself, committees in the United States, such as the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, were successful in their efforts to get the novel prohibited. It was therefore regarded as illegal in the United States for more than a decade until the historic obscenity court decision the United States v. One Book Called Ulysses in 1933 removed the prohibition on the book.
A similar ban on the work was also in place in the United Kingdom until the mid-1930s because of its strong eroticism and graphic representation of body processes. Such publications have the potential to have a significant impact on the quality of Australian family life.
2. The Catcher In The Rye By J.D. Salinger
The next one on our list of banned books 2021 is this classic by J.D. Salinger. It is a standard text for high school curriculums because of its universality—Holden Caulfield’s view on life is considered to connect with teenagers—and because of its literary merit. That the novel’s profanity, sexually explicit language, and inclusion of drugs and alcohol have made it controversial only serves to make it more appealing to its target market, according to the authors.
Since 2009, Salinger’s novel has not been named as one of the most often disputed works of literature. During the twentieth century, it was particularly contentious. It was 1960 when a teacher in Oklahoma was dismissed for attempting to teach the novel The Catcher in the Rye to 11th-graders. In general, the work was regarded as unethical by critics and readers.
3. The Satanic Verses By Salman Rushdie
Few writers have encountered as much outright hatred for a piece of work as Salman Rushdie has for his book The Satanic Verses, which depicts the narrative of two men who have been infected by Islamic culture and their (in)ability to deal with the impact of Western civilization.
Rushdie was forced to drastically reduce his public appearances after the book was published, and to move frequently from residence to residence while being accompanied by bodyguards.
A bounty was placed on Rushdie’s head by Ayatollah Ruhollah, the former spiritual leader of Iran after the book was published. The Satanic Verses have been prohibited in several mostly Muslim nations where the need to maintain shaky civic tranquilly has been prioritised above the desire to allow for free expression of thought.
In nations such as India (where Rushdie was born), Bangladesh, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, and South Africa, the work has either been or is now prohibited from being read or distributed. This one can easily land a sweet spot in the list of banned books 2020.
4. To Kill A Mockingbird By Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird, which was initially published in 1966, is still being contested or banned by school districts in the modern-day. When the novel was initially released, the idea of the storey was deemed unethical. An African-American man who has been wrongfully accused of rape is defended by a white lawyer in the book.
Recently, the book has been the subject of debate for a variety of reasons. According to the American Library Association, the book was prohibited and challenged in 2021 because it had “racist insults and their deleterious impact on pupils, featured a ‘white saviour’ figure, and its view of the Black experience.” It was one of the top ten most disputed and banned novels of the twentieth century. Due to its racial controversy, it became one of the most popular banned books in America.
5. 1984 By George Orwell
After initially provoking a flurry of criticism from former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin with the publication of Animal Farm in 1945; a fable that served as an allegory for the events that occurred during the Russian Bolshevik Revolution and that depicted Stalin’s betrayal of the revolution’s initial cause; George Orwell went even further in 1949 to tarnish his reputation in the eyes of the infamous dictator with the publication of 1984.
Due to Stalin’s perception of the poem as an unwelcome critique of his controlling style, he used his authority to prohibit its publication throughout the Soviet Union, a prohibition that remained in place until 1990. The controversial book followed an ordinary person in his quest to flee the ubiquitous gaze of a dystopian government and addressed issues such as the nature of nationality, sexual repression, censorship, and privacy.
It was written in the wake of the events of the Arab Spring. Various social organisations in the United States have also expressed opposition to the novel and have sought to get it removed from bookstore shelves.
But what is so amusing about these assaults on the book is that it was sought to be banned by groups from opposing sides of the political spectrum, with some alleging it was pro-communism and others arguing that it was anti-government. Although many people now see Orwell’s work as an incisive and, in some instances, prescient reflection on the probable effects of pervasive, too bureaucratic government organisations, the novel has received mixed reviews.
6. Alice In The Wonderland By Lewis Carroll
It may come as a surprise to some that Lewis Carroll’s (pseudonym for Charles Dodgson) Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (also known as Alice in Wonderland) is included on a list of prohibited books, given that it has been hailed by scholars as to the epitome of the literary nonsense genre and by children for its vivid imagery and humorous whimsy. But this is among banned children’s books.
However, the children’s book, which tells the storey of a young girl who dreams of following a rabbit down a hole, only to find herself in an absurd world where illogic reigns and various creatures of all shapes, colours, and sizes live, has been attacked and banned numerous times throughout history for a variety of different reasons.
In 1900, a school in the United States banned the book from its curriculum, stating that it included expletives and made references to masturbation and other sexual desires, as well as lowering the status of some authoritative figures in the eyes of youngsters. Three decades later, and on the other side of the globe, a province in China banned the book because it endowed animals with human language.
The region’s governor was concerned that raising animals to the same level as humans would have terrible effects on civilization. The book was also met with dismay in the United States, roughly a decade after Disney’s 1951 animated production of the film Alice in Wonderland. This time, however, it was met with dismay by parents in a changing America during the 1960s, who believed that it, along with the movie, encouraged the evolving drug culture with its “overt” allusions to hallucinogenic drug usage.
While receiving harsh criticism from numerous cultural groups, Carroll’s pun-filled work has survived the test of time and continues to be admired for its incisive and innovative analyses of the then-emerging mathematical, political, and social systems.
7. The Absolutely True Diary Of A Part-Time Indian By Sherman Alexie
This best-seller, which follows the narrative of a 14-year-old kid who leaves his Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white high school, caused a great deal of controversy for a variety of reasons when it was first published. In 2008, when the book was published, it was praised for dealing with important problems such as race, bullying, poverty, and disability, among others.
As a consequence of this praise, many schools around the United States included the novel into their curriculum. After that, there were complaints. Its critics decried everything from its use of “filthy phrases” to its “allusion to masturbation” to themes that many said were “anti-Christian.”
Student demonstrations and petitions erupted when at least 17 schools throughout the United States removed it off their reading lists. The majority of them were in vain. The book was quickly defended by free speech organisations, and the author himself blasted educational authorities for attempting to “control discussion and restrict the imagination.” It continues to be one of the most heavily restricted books in circulation.
8. China Dream By Ma Jian
All seven of Ma Jian’s works, as well as the author himself, are prohibited in China. However, even though the political refugee has become a British citizen, the 5,000 miles that separate him from his birthplace have not dimmed his hatred for the dictatorship that forced him to flee. This one is among books banned in prison in China!
Xi Jinping uses the term “great rejuvenation” to characterise China’s transformation into the world’s only sovereign superpower, and the title of his newest book, China Dream, is taken straight from the president’s speech. In the actual world, it follows a pretentious and unscrupulous government official who is tasked with replacing people’s dreams with government propaganda via the use of artificial intelligence brain implants.
A daring assessment of a dictatorship that labelled his first book (on the consequences of China’s one-child policy) as spiritual pollution after he published it. However, in Jian’s words, “I have never permitted myself to refrain from writing anything because I was afraid of the repercussions; that would be the death of literature in my opinion.”
9. Lolita By Vladimir Nabokov
Even the author of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita had second thoughts about whether or not the novel should be made accessible to the public in the months leading up to its release. It took considerable persuading from his wife before the book was published, and it was first published in France in 1955 by a well-known pornographic publisher.
Due to Lolita’s controversial reputation, the book was a worldwide best-seller, reaching the top of best-seller lists all over the world. Its subject matter, which was presented to readers as the memoirs of a deceased European intellectual who had a passionate desire for a 12-year-old girl, proved to be too obscene for several authorities, and it was banned from publication in several countries during its first decade of publication.
These countries included France, the United Kingdom, Argentina, New Zealand, and South Africa, as well as several American communities. Despite being heavily criticised, Nabokov’s masterwork refused to be ignored and received widespread acclaim from academics, who praised it for its meditation on the psychology of love.
With its reputation as one of the most innovative books written in the twentieth century, Lolita has been exempt from censorship for many years now.
10. American Psycho By Brett Easton Ellis
A reader will have to wade through hundreds of pages of eye-gouging, breast-slicing, and nail-gunning before the humour of American Psycho becomes obvious in the least. Therefore, it is no surprise that the book has been universally prohibited, with many other nations selling the book in shrink-wrapped condition, with an age restriction label attached. Even in locations where it is not prohibited, some authors may find themselves wishing that it had been prohibited as well.
Read The Most Banned Books For Better Figments Of Creativity
So, this was the entire list of the most famous books that have been banned due to various reasons. This banned book list consisted of the big names that were banned upon their release but they received a cult following in the years to follow.
We hope this article on banned books presented some of the best titles that could be added to your collection!