Our freedom of expression is the one constitutional right that we hold most dear to us, but even that seems to be threatened in today’s contentious times. Still, we have it better than our forefathers did, especially when it comes to reading the books we want to. Who would have thought that something as innocuous as a novel could cause society to break down and call for a ban, but that’s exactly what happened at multiple times in the past. Here’s our list of the 9 now-classic novels which were banned at one point or another throughout history.
Animal Farm, George Orwell
This allegorical tale about corruption in Soviet Russia was predictably banned by the USSR until the 1980s. Slightly stranger, however, is its ban from schools in the UAE in 2002 because of its depiction of a talking pig – something that was seen to oppose Islam’s values.
Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
This classic children’s story, told from the point of view of a horse in 19th century England, seems like the last book that should be banned. However, South Africa’s apartheid regime banned it simply because it had the words “black” and “beauty” together in the title.
Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
The highly-controversial tale about a middle-aged man’s inappropriate obsession with a 12-year-old girl was banned in the UK upon being first published in 1955. It eventually found its way to bookstore shelves in 1959, but only after being banned in several other countries as well.
Like this article? Also read: Wardrobe Staples You Didn’t Know Gave You The Freedom You Have Today
Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
While we look back at this as a true classic in every sense of the word, society – at the time of its publishing in 1857 – seemed to think otherwise. The story about a bored married woman’s sexual affairs put the author and his publishers on trial for obscenity when it first came out.
The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
If you thought India was sensitive about how it’s perceived by the rest of the world, then you probably haven’t heard the tale of the Californian county, where the novel was set, which banned this classic novel for “exaggerating” the poor conditions in migrant labour camps. This despite the fact that historians have repeatedly insisted that the book is historically accurate.
Ulysses, James Joyce
Banned by the UK and US for almost a decade following its publishing, Joyce’s phenomenal account of a day in the life of Leopold Bloom has gone on to become essential reading for anyone who appreciates the written word.
Like this article? Also read: Capturing Memorable Moments: With The Wedding Salad
The Call of the Wild, Jack London
In a classic case of confusing censorship, this tale of a dog who goes from pampered house pet to pulling a sled in harsh conditions was banned by Yugoslavia and Italy for the author’s socialist views. Then, in 1933, the book was burned by the Nazis, which is all the more reason to read this book.
The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
The classic novel about adolescent rebellion holds the distinction of being the most banned book and the second most taught book in the US school system. Go figure. What the people calling for a ban on the book didn’t count on, however, was that banning it only made those rebellious teens seek it out even more actively.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover, DH Lawrence
It took Penguin winning a landmark court case in 1968 to get this book published in the UK, a full 30 years after it first came out. The then-risqué tale of a married woman’s sexual affair with her gamekeeper was deemed too racy for the British public, who promptly proceeded to buy every single copy of the book as soon as the ban was lifted.
Like this article? Also read: 6 Brilliant Books Which Were Originally Independently Published
Cover Image Courtesy: Shutterstock.com
Need to catch up on your reading? Do it on an e-reader (listed below).