Cancel culture is a term that's being thrown around a lot these days. Writers like J.K. Rowling, Noam Chomsky, and Salman Rushdie signed an open letter earlier this week denouncing the shaming and ostracism many public figures face online. Arguably, cancel culture goes much further back to before the time of Twitter mobs and Instagram activists. In some ways, banning books has often been used as a means to silence and 'cancel out' the voices and opinions of authors. But art persists and survives in surprising ways, and these 5 banned books are proof of that!
1. Animal Farm by George Orwell
It probably doesn't come as a surprise to you that Orwell's famous dystopian novella, Animal Farm, was banned in the USSR until the 1980s due to its scathing criticism of communism. But did you know it's currently banned in the UAE because talking pigs are deemed as offensive to Islamic values?
2. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
When you look at our dreamy Alice in Wonderland poster and read the text, it's hard to imagine that this whimsical tale could be offensive enough to ban. But at one point it was banned in China due to the belief that animals should not use human language, nor be placed on the same level as people!
3. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The irony of banning a book about burning books was clearly lost on certain American school districts when they scratched it from reading lists due to questionable language and themes of censorship, religion, and oppression.
4. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye has earned a bit of a reputation over the years. Some of this is due to its bizarre connection to the murder of John Lennon, but it's also been banned for vulgar scenes and foul language.
5. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Atwood is one of the 150 individuals to sign the open letter against cancel culture, and perhaps a contemporary author who is very familiar with the concept of censorship. Despite the huge international popularity of The Handmaid's Tale (it was even made into a hit Hulu series, now heading into a 4th season), it has been banned for its sexual themes, portrayal of violence against women, and criticism of Christian-centric religions.
Do you have any favorite books that have been banned at some point?
Our literary posters are made from the text of famous books—yes, even the banned ones—and are a creative gift for any book lover. Check out our poster selection, or put in a request for a novel you'd like to see hanging on your wall!