Monday, February 1, 2010

Surprisingly Banned Books

I was reading through my Uncle John's Bathroom Reader (a surprisingly weighty tome filled with excellent knowledge-bombs to drop while sitting on the pot) and rediscovered a fascinating list of banned books -- complete with explanation.

It inspired me to do something similar, only focusing more on those texts which, for "reasons mysterious" were banned, despite their immense popularity or exposure.

***Author's Note: list is organized in semi-alphabetical order.***

1. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Caroll . Banned in the Hunan province of China around 1931, for the portrayal of anthropomorphized animals acting on the same level as humans. Apparently the Chinese have a problem with the possibility that humans are, in fact, animals. Or that animals could be human. It's a vice versa-type thing.

2. The Diary of Anne Frank. Banned in Lebanon just last year for "portray[ing] Jews, Israel or Zionism favorably." This is hilarious. Anne Frank getting killed in the Holocaust makes Jews look too good? Well, I guess that explains why Muslims threw such a big stink about that [cartoon].

[Actual image unavailable. Book probably similar to this.]

3. Dictionary of Modern Serbo-Croatian Language. Banned in Yugoslavia by a court order from 1966, at the request of one Mirko Tepavac because, "some definitions can cause disturbance among citizens." Wow! A dictionary? Really? Really? Okay... well, I guess that's just completely random.

4. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck. Banned immediately after publication across the U.S., and especially California (where the novel was set), because "it made the residents look bad." At least this makes sense. I mean, if someone wrote a book that made me look bad, I would want to -- besides laugh -- ban it as well!

5. Mein Kampf, by Adolf Hitler. Completely banned in Germany, as well as some European states, and the Russian Federation. I find this surprising because here in the U.S. of A I can find multiple copies on every dilapidated used-bookstore street-corner. But then again, if my continent had a history of blitzkrieg and crazy swastika-zombies, I'd ban Hitler's masturbatory biography too.

6. Jack London's Call of the Wild. Banned in 1929 in Italy, of all places! Apparently it was too "radical" and "obscene". I never knew a story about a domesticated dog going wild again could be so offensive...

7. Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell. Banned by South Africa in 1955. To continue the animal-theme, I guess a story about a heroic black horse is just too much for the fascist, white minority regime! The government called the book (among others), "indecent, objectionable, or obscene."

8. Ernst Zundel's Did Six Million Really Die? Banned in Canada TWICE for violating "false news" laws. I can see why this might be offensive to be banned -- but at the same time, who the hell would read a book denying the the Holocaust? I mean, there's a society dedicated to the belief that the Earth is actually flat, but nobody starts questioning the veracity of Earth's rotundity. It seems like a waste of time to give credence to idiocy by deigning to notice it at all.

9. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley. Banned in several countries for obscenity and objectionable content. There's something about science playing God that just doesn't sit right with some people. But honestly, it's a work of horror-fantasy, and yet people take it seriously. Maybe they don't like the bolts in the guy's neck? Or maybe it's because the book was written by a woman...? No, I've got it! It's because he's green, right?

10. Where's Waldo?, by Martin Hanford. Banned in several locations throughout the U.S. between 1990 and 2000. It's a lot like when the FBI thought the song, "Louie Louie" by The Kingsman contained "obscene lyrics". Someone randomly one day decided that the Waldo books contained "hidden pictures" that were inappropriate. Some claims include: topless sunbathers, bare breasts, Waldo's gay lovers, "hail satan" hand signs, and other miscellany. This has got to be the funniest banned book on the list. Apparently the man who doesn't want to be found actually doesn't want to be found out. I don't know. People have to be really bored to try banning Waldo.

Well, there you have it. Stupidity extends into even the randomest sectors of bibliography. People will ban anything these days -- even the Harry Potter series had book-burnings! It just boggles the mind how fellow human-beings can actually believe the things they think sometimes... It's almost as if they wanted to get offended. (Which they probably did.)

But oh well. So it goes. Hope ya'll enjoyed this list.


P.S. All information was found using Google, Wikipedia, and Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Anniversary Edition.

5 footnotes:

Mira said...

Oh, at first I looked at this post from a superior point of view. You know, those weirdos ban books in Russia, US, or China, that never happens in my country (or former country).

But then...

3. Dictionary of Modern Serbo-Croatian Language. Banned in Yugoslavia by a court order from 1966, at the request of one Mirko Tepavac because, "some definitions can cause disturbance among citizens." Wow! A dictionary? Really? Really? Okay... well, I guess that's just completely random.


I had no idea about this! I'll search for more info. I really wonder which definitions could cause disturbance among citizens. (Capitalism? Monarchy?)

At first, I thought it was a relatively new book, that's banned because of title "Serbo-Croatian" (Serbs and Croats claim today they speak completely different language... Despite the fact those languages are suspiciously similar... almost the same).

I have to find more info on this.

Mira said...

Found it!

It didn't contain words of all Yugoslavian nations, only (as I understand) Serbs. Croats were omitted.

Also, it contained several then forbidden words, "ustase" and "cethniks", while term "partisans" weren't explained "in the right" (read: most positive) way.

Melanie's Randomness said...

I'm not shocked to be honest. I did read The Diary of Anne Frank in high school, but I think there was controversy about the book, "Sophie's Choice". Those Where's Waldo books kinda did have racy scenes, I remember the battle one with people dead in it. That definitely explains it!

Zek J Evets said...

@mira: haha, it's always a surprise when you think that your country is far removed from the often embarrassing antics of the world stage by their relegation to background noise at the UN, but then you realize that EVERYBODY has a little silliness to contribute to our great ocean of humanity =)

thanks for the additional info on my entry!

@melanie: where's waldo isn't racy! geebus p cryst! i've seen worse in a disney movie. donald duck doesn't even wear pants! and then people complain that waldo had a couple kissing on the beach?

bleeeeh. people are just weird, in general.

Anonymous said...

all books should be destroyed until there is nothing but a small collection that is monitored and kept my a monarch's appointed staff of royal librarians so that the knowledge of things and avenues to thought can be kept from peasants.