Post by Lindsay Kelly
Although “Banned Books Week” already passed, occurring from September 30th to October 6th, I still think it is a week that deserves due attention, particularly during an election season when we hear so much about the importance of free speech. It was started in the early 1980s in response to increasing attempts to monitor what books were being read in schools and made available in libraries.
This list of books includes works that challenged the limits of what free speech entails, and for various reasons, were deemed too dangerous, too risqué, or too inciting to be read by the public. And perhaps surprisingly (or not!) some of these books are also some of the most influential books in the U.S. (as deemed by the Library of Congress):
1) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
2) The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
3) Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
4) The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
5) Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
6) Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
7) Native Son by Richard Wright
8) The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
9) The Color Purple by Alice Walker
10) The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
11) Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
12) Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Please share your thoughts about this list! Were you surprised by some of the works on here, or not??
Lindsay Kelly is a PhD candidate in English literature at the University of Maryland. She studies Caribbean literature and literature of the black diaspora, and some of her favorite authors include Amitav Ghosh, Edwidge Danticat, Michelle Cliff, Pauline Melville, and Gabriel García Márquez.