Censored!! A Selection of Books Banned in Years Past

Certain books have "rubbed people the wrong way" for a variety of reasons. We offer here a selection of books once challenged or banned but now considered mainstream or even "classic."

Doctor Zhivago

By Boris Pasternak

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“The best way to understand Pasternak’s achievement in Doctor Zhivago is to see it in terms of this great Russian literary tradition, as a fairy tale, not so much of good and evil as of opposing forces and needs in human destiny and history that can never be reconciled . . . [Zhivago is] a figure who embodies the principle of life itself, the principle that contradicts every abstraction of revolutionary politics.”—from the Introduction by John Bayley

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Peyton Place

By Grace Metalious

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Peyton Place, published in 1956, has sold over 10,000,000 copies world-wide and remains one of the biggest selling novels of all time. Its sequel, Return to Peyton Place, published in 1959, was a national best-seller for many, many months. It was considered absolutely scandalous when it was published. Peyton Place stirred controversy with its explicit—for the time—depictions of sex and sins in a small New England town. Today, the once shocking novel and its sequel seem tame, and are taught in college English courses as classics of their time, well-written and honest in the evocation of the passions, jealousies, and secrets of small-town America. In 1957, it was made into an award-winning movie starring Lana Turner.

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Lady Chatterley's Lover

By D.H. Lawrence

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"Lady Chatterley's Lover is one of the most beautiful and tender love stories of modern fiction. It is perhaps Lawrence's greatest book. Inspired by the long-standing affair between Frieda, Lawrence’s German wife, and an Italian peasant who eventually became her third husband, Lady Chatterley’s Lover is the story of Constance Chatterley, who, while trapped in an unhappy marriage to an aristocratic mine owner whose war wounds have left him paralyzed and impotent, has an affair with Mellors, the gamekeeper. Although Lawrence wrote the book in 1928, it was banned in Britain, Australia and the United States. Penguin Books went to court in 1959 in order to publish this book. It became a best seller immediately."

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Two Classics of the French Revolution: Reflections on the Revolution in France

By Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine

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This volume contains two works, one of which is "The Rights of Man" by Thomas Paine, which supported the French Revolution, and for which Paine was indicted for treason in England in 1792.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

By Harper Lee

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Two children in a small southern town in the 1930s are thrust into an adult world of racial bigotry and hatred when their lawyer father defends a black man charged with raping a white girl. The book has been challenged and banned from several school libraries over the years.

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The Tragedy of King Lear

By William Shakespeare

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A king foolishly divides his kingdom between his two scheming eldest daughters and estranges himself from the daughter who loves him. So begins this profoundly moving and disturbing tragedy that, perhaps more than any other work in literature, challenges the notion of a coherent and just universe.
Banned from the English stage from 1788-1820 out of respect to King George III's alleged insanity.
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The Call of the Wild

By Jack London

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This book tells the story of the magnificent dog Buck, who is a loyal pet until cruel men make him a pawn in their search for the gold of the Klondike. Brutally treated, Buck finds the blood of his wolf ancestors rising within him and breaks free to roam the Alaskan wilderness as leader of a ferocious pack. Banned in three European countries in the '20's and '30's, it is now required reading in many U.S. schools.

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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

By Mark Twain

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The bad boy of riverboating days on the Mississippi has a great time living like a pirate, witnesses a murder, gets a fortune, and attends his own funeral.

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Silas Marner

By George Eliot

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After suffering betrayal and rejection, Silas Marner leaves his community to settle in a strange place. There the lonely weaver becomes obsessed with accumulating money, until one day a little golden-haired orphan girl wanders into his home... Set at the beginning of the industrial revolution, Silas Marner weaves a telling social commentary into an inspiring tale of love and redemption. Banned in Anaheim, CA in 1978.

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Leaves of Grass

By Walt Whitman

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"Leaves of Grass" inaugurated a new voice, style, and optimistic, bombastic vision into American letters, one that took the nation itself as subject. This classic was "Banned in Boston" in 1881 for its language.

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