There are many benefits to reading classic books. They have timeless lessons to teach us, and classic books often force us to face uncomfortable truths too. In fact, it may surprise you to learn that many of the literary art prints in our shop are created from books that have, at one time or another, been banned!
It's important to acknowledge banned books, hence we celebrate Banned Books Week every year. So, read on to learn about 5 classic books that have been famously banned and the surprising reasons why.
1. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
You may be wondering what could possibly be offensive about this tale of a young woman and her dog trying to find their way back home to Kansas (by way of Oz, of course). Among the weird reasons why this classic book was banned? It was considered to hold 'no value', promote negativism and socialism, and encourage the use of magic.
2. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
It's no secret that Salman Rushdie is one of the most controversial authors alive. When his novel The Satanic Verses was published in 1988, it created an uproar that culminated in a bounty being placed on Rushdie's head. The book has been banned and criticized for its negative portrayal of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. As the recent attack on Salman Rushdie in New York shows, The Satanic Verses continues to have a significant impact more than three decades after its publication.
3. Novels by Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway was no stranger to the banned books list. His novels The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, and For Whom the Bell Tolls have all been banned at some point for their 'too accurate' portrayals of war, politically charged themes, and pornographic content. The pornographic label is particularly ironic considering no one could actually find scenes of a sexual nature in Hemingway's novels—a testament, if anything, to his masterful use of the iceberg theory in his writing.
4. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Anyone who has read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland know it's a pretty wild ride. This classic book has been banned for humanizing animals and because the caterpillar and the hookah was believed to promote hallucinogenic drugs. Considering that Lewis Carroll's entire book feels like one big trippy hallucination, it's odd that that's the one bit that seemed to take things just a step too far.
5. 1984 by George Orwell
Okay, it's probably not surprising to find that 1984 has made it onto many, many classic banned books lists. One reason Orwell's dystopian classic has made the banned books list is due to its sexual subject matter. However, what will surprise you is Jackson County, Florida's reasoning for banning 1984: they believed the novel was too 'pro-communist'.
Have you read any of these banned classic books?
Tell us in the comments section👇what you thought!