Every writer has the freedom to express his opinions. Not everyone agrees with an author’s opinion, especially governments, who fear that a certain book might hurt the sentiments of a majority of people and disturb the peace. Some books were banned as they were considered too dangerous for the masses to read. Authorities feared that their ideology would influence people into make wrong choices.
Others were banned as the society of that period was not evolved enough to understand the author, who wrote about things that were far ahead of time. Misjudging and misunderstanding the contents of a book are the main reasons for it to be banned. Let’s look at a few books which did not deserve to be banned:
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends is a collection of poems for children. It reflects his quirky sense of humor, which many people find hard to understand. It was banned because it was considered to be a bad influence on children. It was seen to promote cannibalism and that it encouraged young readers to rebel against authority. Adult readers found references to drugs, death and suicide.
What the authorities neglected to see, was that the book encouraged children to use their imagination. They ignored how funny the poems are and the fact that children cannot understand symbolisms as adults do, so banning the book had no meaning. This book should never have been banned as it is important for children to be well-rounded readers, which is not possible if they read only conventional books.
Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
Mein Kampf, which was published in 1925 was banned in Germany for seventy years. It was thought that his 800 page diatribe would spread his fascist propaganda,would hurt the sentiments of people and lead others to an extremist attitude. Hitler’s book had relevance at the time of its publication as it played up the various prejudices of that period and anyone reading it now would most probably not take it seriously.
But banning the book did not mean it was unavailable. Anybody could buy any of the seventy million copies published before 1945 legally and even during the ban, educators and scholars had access to it. So the ban did not really have a meaning.
1984 by George Orwell
George Orwell’s 1984 is one of the most controversial books ever published.It was banned from schools because of its sexual content and because it was thought to promote communist philosophy. The book was published when society was far more conservative than today.
It’s depiction of a totalitarian government was open to interpretation and many felt it promoted that kind of government, whereas others felt it exposed the sad reality of living in a dictatorship, which restricts individual freedom and encourages conformity. The book being banned in schools actually prevents young readers from reading a thought provoking work of art which is considered to be a literary masterpiece.
The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
Published in 1859, it presented the theory of “natural selection” as the reason behind evolution. This raised a big hue and cry at the time as it went against the concept of Creationism, and so this book was considered to be blasphemous. It was banned as most people were shocked by the ideas in the book. It changed the way people regarded history, society and religion, apart from the natural world. Now, it is considered to be one of the most influential books of all time.
The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
This book was banned in India due to its explicit content which was shocking to some people. The government did not want to risk disturbing the peace. The author felt it was banned without scrutiny and was a repressive move in a democratic society. The ban still stands and raises the question of freedom of expression.
These books were banned by authorities due to their supposedly controversial content. They
did not deserve to be banned as people should be allowed to make their own choices in a free society.