How to impress the reader? How do you write a story that leaves a significant impact on person’s mind and thinking process? Great authors from different periods say pretty much the same thing: it doesn’t matter what do you write about as long as you touch readers’ hearts.
This statement basically concludes that some revolutionary ideas that author may present are not always widely accepted. Even more, it often seems like words that writer has put on paper are used with the intent to shock the audience, not to entertain. This might be true but this top 10 of famous banned books presents well-known stories which were under censorship at some point and may have never seen the world.
1. THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, by J.D. Salinger.
Story of Caulden Holfield may not look like something we view in 2016 as vulgar, occult and full of violence and sexuality. But in 70s and 80s it was the most banned book in US high schools. Mr. Salinger takes us on a trip with unlucky student who just got expelled. He decides to have some fun in New York while he has few days before coming home and have interaction with his parents explaining why he has been dropped out, again. Having some fun includes, alcohol, prostitutes, old girl-friends and, surprisingly, old teacher and younger sister. Yes the book has some “hot” words, yes it has some descriptions of activities where 16 years old boy shouldn’t be involved. But that’s not the point of the book, while it encourage “rebellion” spirit of teens, it provides us with clever and interesting internal dialogue of the main character and does it’s best to present us the struggle of the young generation which is so unsure of it’s future.
2. A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, by Anthony Burgess.
This book, so famous and popular nowadays, was strictly banned back to mid-80s-late 80s due to it’s “objectionable” language. This is a dystopian novel that shows us ultra violent future world, leaded by protagonist, Alex, a teenager who shows his awful experience of living his hard life. A novel was removed from several schools and libraries, hardly judged by the society.
Nowadays it is really popular not only because of interesting stile of Anthony Burgess, but also because of a rather big issues: teenage violence, raping, homeless children and terror of living in a “future” world of chaos and full control at the same time.
3. A FAREWELL TO ARMS, by Ernest Hemingway.
Now we call it classic, but it wasn’t always like that. Book tells us about terrors of World War I, love, duty and fear. The protagonist, American Frederic Henry, serving as a Lieutenant or Tenente, is an ambulance driver in Italy. Frederic falls in love with Catherine Barkley, and two of them are fighting against the terrors of war, trying to save their love.
This book was labeled as a “sex novel” before and strictly banned by schools and libraries. The government of the USA used to think it was dangerous because of some “adult” scenes, but nowadays we must consider the importance of thinking (and talking) about such things as war, peace, love, death (and even sex), cynical soldiers, fighting and the displacement of populations.
4. ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN, by Mark Twain.
We consider this book almost appropriate for children, so it is strange to think about it being banned due to objectionable language and “racist” terms and content.
It is told in by Huckleberry “Huck” Finn, a friend of Tom Sawyer from “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”. Finn and Sawyer live their lives in a small town near the Mississippi River, observing entrenched attitudes and racism of local people.
“Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is a bit satiric, it colorfully describes people and places, but even more – relationships in society where “one person is much more important than another”. It is important to read books like this nowadays, just to remember a long way to the point where everyone can be equal.
5. LORD OF THE FLIES, by William Golding.
This book was banned by government, schools and libraries of the USA for a bunch of reasons. But mostly because it explained that in extreme conditions every peaceful human being is willing to kill his fellow in order to survive. Though, our main characters are just kids who were unfortunate enough to live on a tropical island after a plane-crash, it just amplifies the violence and struggle to obtain an order that they are facing. This leads to really awful results: murders, violence and man hunting.
Big issues that are stated in this book, are even more important now, in the age of ultra violence, murders, abuse, when children are out of control and human nature is revealing itself.
6. BRAVE NEW WORLD, by Aldous Huxley.
This book was banned in U.S. constantly, because it “centered around negative activity, ad strong language, and for supposedly being anti-family and anti-religion”. It tells us about two central characters, Lenina Crowneand Bernard Marx, and also John, a man they found in the desert, who is unable to socialize in the world where “love”, “mother” and “family” are forbidden.
What’s interesting about this story is that A. Huxley foresaw the development of reproductive technology, social influence, and respondent conditioning that combine profoundly to change society, that is also important now. It speaks to the soul of humanity, begging to stay not tribe, but family, showing the fear of becoming manipulated by our own desires.
7. THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES, by Ray Bradbury.
Book by famous and almost classical author Ray Bradbury was also banned and challenged due to the “profanity and the use of God’s name in vain”. Sounds funny, at least.
“The Martian Chronicles” are basically chronicles of the colonization of Mars by humans, while Earth is completely destroyed by atomic wars, ecological disasters and lack of resources. Book shows us devastating conflict between aboriginal Martians and the new colonists, when only one nation can survive.
“The Martian Chronicles” are not only fantastic book, it actually brings a lot to one’s mind. Do we have a right to be here? What damage have we already caused? Are we really so powerful? Where will it all end?
This book was challenged, but it also challenges us to think about what we are doing with our planet, our art, our future. That’s why it is so important.
8. NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR, by George Orwell.
Nineteen eighty-four is another dystopian novel in our top. It takes us to a world of perpetual war and omnipresent government surveillance. Things like public manipulation are common and are dictated by a political system presented to us as English Socialism. A privileged elite, named the Inner Party is under control of all of this. Probably the most scary part of this terror is an absolute prohibition of an individual and alternative thinking which is viewed by authorities as “thoughtcrime.”
This book was strongly criticized for pro-communist material and explicit sexual matter, that’s why it was challenged by government and society. But nowadays it is important to see true nature if things, to understand the importance of being free, to see manipulation and propaganda.
9. THE SHINING, by Stephen King.
The Shining is a horror novel. Jack Torrance, main protagonist, is a writer and recovers from alcoholism. As Jack is looking for an inspiration, he gladly accepts a caretaker of the hotel position during the off-season in the Colorado mountains. He takes his family as well, wife and little son. They are all alone in the mountains, without any ways to communicate outside world. Soon, after a winter storm leaves them snowbound, strange forces inhabiting the hotel influence Jack’s sanity.
This book was considered undesirable by authorities. It was said that it is full of violence, demonic possession and makes fun of the Christianity, as almost every Stephen King’s book. But it is popular now, not only because of perfect film adaptation, but also because of problems of loneliness, insanity and isolation.
10. SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE, by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
“Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death” is a novel written in a satirical manner and deals with World War II events. This novel is also partially autobiographical, because Vonnegut was the eyewitness of firebombing in Dresden.
This is a story about “consequences of being human”. Chaplain’s assistant who’s name is Billy Pilgrim is a protagonist, a man who doesn’t want to fight, to kill. Billy is alone against coincidences that put him where he is, time, war, mental illness and love.
This book was considered “dangerous” because of violent, irreverent, profane and sexually explicit content, but it is important now, as society goes into the new age and faces new challenges.