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Top 10 Banned Books Of The 20th Century

By: Robert P.

HuckleBerry Finn

If you think censorship is something that only happens in faraway countries, think again.

These ten great pieces of literature were all banned in the last century.

10. The Grapes of Wrath

Grapes of Wrath

"Before I knowed it, I was sayin' out loud, 'The hell with it! There ain't no sin and there ain't no virtue. There's just stuff people do. It's all part of the same thing.'"

- The Grapes of Wrath [1939] John Steinbeck

At the time of publication, Steinbeck's novel was publicly banned and burned by citizens and debated on national radio hook-ups.

Part of its impact stemmed from its passionate depiction of the plight of the poor.

However, although Steinbeck was accused of exaggeration of the camp conditions to make a political point, he had actually done the opposite, underplaying the conditions that he well knew were worse than the novel describes because he felt exact description would have gotten in the way of his story.

9. Lady Chatterley's Lover

Lady Chatterley's Lover

"Ravished! How ravished one could be without ever being touched. Ravished by dead words become obscene, and dead ideas become obsessions."

- Lady Chatterley's Lover [1928] D. H. Lawrence

When Lady Chatterley's Lover was published in Britain in 1960, the trial of the publishers, Penguin Books, under the Obscene Publications Act of 1959 was a major public event and a test of the new obscenity law. The 1959 act had made it possible for publishers to escape conviction if they could show that a work was of literary merit. One of the objections was to the frequent use of the word "fuck" and its derivatives.'

Various academic critics were called as witnesses, and the verdict was not guilty. This resulted in a far greater degree of freedom for publishing explicit material in the UK.

8. Slaughterhouse-Five

Slaughterhouse Five

"All this happened, more or less. The war parts, anyway, are pretty much true. One guy I knew really was shot in Dresden for taking a teapot that wasn't his. Another guy I knew really did threaten to have his personal enemies killed by hired gunmen after the war. And so on. I've changed all the names."

- Slaughterhouse-Five [1969] Kurt Vonnegut

Because of its realistic and frequent depiction of swearing by American soldiers, its irreverent language (including the sentence "The gun made a ripping sound like the opening of the zipper on the fly of God Almighty,") and some sexually explicit content, Slaughterhouse-Five is among the most frequently banned works in American literature, and in some cases is still removed from school libraries and curricula.

Conversely, this book has also become a part of the curriculum of certain schools. The suitability of the work has even been considered by the Supreme Court of the United States, where it was one of the works at issue in Island Trees School District v. Pico,457 U.S. 853 (1982). The novel appears on the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000 at number sixty-nine.

7. To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird

"The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience."

- To Kill a Mockingbird [1960] Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird has been a source of significant controversy since its being the subject of classroom study as early as 1963. The book's racial slurs, profanity, and frank discussion of rape have led people to challenge its appropriateness in libraries and classrooms across the United States. The American Library Association reported that To Kill a Mockingbird was #41 of the 100 most frequently challenged books of 1990–2000.

6. Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451

"The sun burnt every day. It burnt Time. The world rushed in a circle and turned on its axis and time was busy burning the years and the people anyway, without any help from him. So if he burnt things with the firemen and the sun burnt Time, that meant that everything burnt!"

- Fahrenheit 451 [1953] Ray Bradbury

The novel is frequently interpreted as being critical of state-sponsored censorship, but Bradbury has disputed this interpretation. He said in a 2007 interview that the book explored the effects of television and mass media on the reading of literature.

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