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Banned Books

Challenged and Banned Books - Reasons Why These Famous Novels Were Removed


Books are banned every day. Do you know some of the most famous examples of books that have been censored? Do you know why they've been challenged or banned. This list highlights some of the most famous books that have been been banned, censored, or challenged. Take a look!

1. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Bedford/St. Martin Press
Published in 1884, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain has been banned on social grounds. Concord Public Library called the book "trash suitable only for the slums," when it first banned the novel in 1885. The references and treatment of African Americans in the novel reflect the time about which it was written, but some critics have thought such language inappropriate for study and reading in schools and libraries.

2. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

The Diary of Anne Frank
Bantam Books
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl is an important work from World War II. The work is the diary of a young girl, Anne Frank, as she experiences the Nazi occupation. She hides with her family, but she is eventually discovered and sent to a concentration camp (where she died). This book was banned for passages that were considered "sexually offensive," as well as for the tragic nature of the book, which some readers felt was a "real downer."
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3. Arabian Nights

Arabian Nights
W.W. Norton & Co.
The Arabian Nights is a collection of tales, which has been banned by Arab governments. Various editions of The Arabian Nights were also banned by the US Government under the Comstock Law of 1873.
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4. Awakening - Kate Chopin

The Awakening Kate Chopin
Bedford/St. Martin Books
Kate Chopin's novel, The Awakening (1899), is the famous tale of Edna Pontellier, who leaves her family, commits adultery, and begins to rediscover her true self--as an artist. Such an awakening is not easy, nor is it socially acceptable (particularly at the time when the book was published). The book was criticized for being immoral and scandalous. After this novel was met with such scathing reviews, Kate Chopin never wrote another novel. The Awakening is now considered an important work in feminist literature.

5. Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar is the only novel by Sylvia Plath, and it is famous not only because it offers shocking insight into her mind and art, but also because it is a coming-of-age story--told in the first person by Esther Greenwood, who struggles with her mental illness. Her suicide attempts made the book a target for book censors. (The book has been repeatedly banned and challenged for its controversial content.)

6. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

Brave New World
Published in 1932, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World has been banned with complaints about the language used, as well morality issues. Brave New World is a satirical novel, with a stringent division of the classes, drugs, and free love. The book was banned in Ireland in 1932; and the book has been banned and challenged in schools and libraries across the United States. On complaint was that the novel "centered around negative activity."
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7. Call of the Wild - Jack London

Call of the Wild
Simon & Schuster
The Call of the Wild is a famous American book, by Jack London. Here, a dog reverts to his primordial impulses in the frigid wilds of the Yukon territory. The book is a popular piece for study in American literature classrooms (sometimes read in conjunction with Walden and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn). The novel was banned in Yugoslavia and Italy. In Yugoslavia, the complaint was that the book was "too radical."
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8. Color Purple - Alice Walker

The Color Purple
The Color Purple, by Alice Walker, received the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, but the book has been frequently challenged and banned for what has been termed "sexual and social explicitness." The novel involves sexual assault and abuse. Despite the controversies concerning this title, the book was made into a motion picture.
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9. Candide - Voltaire

Viking Penguin.
Published in 1759, Voltaire's Candide was banned by the Catholic Church. Bishop Etienne Antoine wrote: "We prohibit, under canonical law, the printing or sale of these books..."
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10. Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye
Back Bay Books
First published in 1951, The Catcher in the Rye details 48 hours in the life of Holden Caulfield. The novel is the only novel-length work by J.D. Salinger, and its history has been colorful. The Catcher in the Rye is famous as the most censored, banned and challenged book between 1966 and 1975 for being "obscene," with an "excess of vulgar language, sexual scenes, and things concerning moral issues."
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