Monday, March 10, 2014


Twenty-five years ago, in 1989, a fatwa was ordered for the death of Salman Rushie, author of The Satanic Verses. Sadly, it merely continued a tradition of literary censorship—a tradition that knows no geographic or cultural boundaries. Whether for moral, religious or political reasons, the banning of books is an unfortunate through line of history. These have ranged from nonfiction like The Peaceful Pill Handbook (a euthanasia instructional manual banned in New Zealand) to novels like Peyton Place (banned in Canada for a few years).

The following is a list of only some of the more notable books that have been censored by various governments over the years. Some of the books are no longer banned. Some still are. Some titles won’t surprise you. Some most certainly will (#18, especially), as will some of the countries themselves.

What’s with Australia?

1. The Bible (North Korea)
2. Rights of Man by Thomas Paine (United Kingdom)
3. Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Confederate States of America)
4. The Diary of Anne Frank (Lebanon)
5. Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler (Austria)
6. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (South Africa)
7. Ulysses (United Kingdom. U.S., Australia)
8. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (California, temporarily)
9. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (Dallas, Texas)
10. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie (Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Iran, Kenya, Kuwait, Liberia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan, Senegal, Singapore)

11. Animal Farm by George Orwell (U.A.E., Cuba, North Korea)
12. 1984 by George Orwell (Soviet Union)
13. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (Ireland, Australia)
14. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (East Germany)
15. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (France, U.K., Argentina, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada)
16. Madame Bovary by Gustava Flaubert (France)
17. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll (Hunan, China)
18. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss (People’s Republic of China)
19. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque(Nazi Germany)
20. The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer (Canada)
21. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence (Australia)
22. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Soviet Union)
23. The First Circle by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Soviet Union)
24. The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Soviet Union)
25. Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman (Japan)

26. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (Lebanon)
27. Peyton Place by Grace Metalious (Canada)
28. Lysistrata by Aristophanes (Greece)
29. Thalia (Roman Empire)
30. An Area of Darkness by V.S. Naipaul (India)
31. July’s People by Nadine Gordimer (South Africa)
32. The Lottery by Shirley Jackson (South Africa)
33. A Spoon on Earth by Hyeon Gi-yeong (South Korea)
34. Year 501: The Conquest Continues by Noam Chomsky (South Korea)
35. The Lonely Girl by Edna O’Brien (Ireland)
36. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (Queensland, Australia)
37. The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall (United Kingdom)
38. The King Never Smiles by Paul M. Handley (Thailand)
39. Unarmed Victory by Bertrand Russell (India)
40. The Stud by Jackie Collins (Australia)

41. The World is Full of Married Men by Jackie Collins (Australia)
42. Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India by Joseph Lelyveld (Gujarat, India)
43. Ecstasy and Me by Hedy Lamarr (Australia)
44. Rowena Goes Too Far by H.C. Asterley (Australia)
45. The Hoax of the Twentieth Century (Arthur Butz)
46. Spycatcher by Peter Wright (United Kingdom)
47. The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell (Australia)
48. The Peaceful Pill by Philip Nitschke and Fiona Stewart (New Zealand)
49. How to Make Disposable Silencers by Desert and Eliezer Flores (Australia)

The Meritorious Price of Our Redemption by William Pynchon (#50 on our list) was the first book banned in the New World because it criticized Puritanism. And in 2010, all first edition copies of Operation Dark Heart by Colonel Anthony Shaffer (#51) were purchased and destroyed by the U.S. Department of Defense for national security reasons.

But there are a few more interesting ones that were temporarily banned in the United States—either seized by U.S. Customs or banned from the U.S. mail. The reason? Obscenity. So the final seven banned books on our list are: Moll Flanders (Daniel Defoe), Tropic of Cancer (Henry Miller), Fanny Hill or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (John Cleland), Naked Lunch (William S. Burroughs), and Howl (Allen Ginsberg), Candide (Voltaire), and The Canterbury Tales (Geoffrey Chaucer).

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