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Books Banned by Governments Through History

I'm passionately interested in the arts, especially drawing and painting. I work as a professional web developer.

Some of the best books that we know and teach today, have been banned at some point in history for political and moral reasons. However as we progressed as a civilization that believes in freedom of speech and these books are no longer banned in most countries and many of them are considered a part of the literary legacy of the western civilization. This article is an important reminder that we need to be fast to appreciate and slow to judge, because valuable works of art are not always immediately obvious. Sometimes, the content that actually deeply disturbs you can carry the most value to your personal sophistication or transform you as a person.


1. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

The Da Vinci code was banned in Lebanon just a year after it was published. The Catholic Leaders considered it offensive and blasphemous towards Christianity because it depicts Jesus and Mary Magdalene as sexual partners. This would deeply disturb religious and moral beliefs, and eventually led to the book being publicly banned.

2. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll

In the province Hunan of China Alice in Wonderland was banned. The province’s governor didn’t like that animals were given human characteristics in the book such as the ability to speak, think and act like people. This may seem silly to some, but he believed that portraying animals with the ability to speak and to use language was offensive to humans and eventually this led to restrictions.

3. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

The book was banned in the Soviet Union. Their officials thought that it criticized the Russia after the revolution and romanticized the pre-revolution Russian upper class. Pasternak still won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1958 (though he was pressured not to receive it by the government) and after all the book became very popular. The book was finally published in 1987 under the Mikhail Gorbachov democratic reforms.

4. Animal Farm by George Orwell

The book’s satirical depiction of the brutalities of the communist system caused it to get banned in the Soviet Union and other communist countries. As the Soviet Union was a ally of Great Britain in WWII the George Orwell also had a difficulty finding a publish who would actually publish the book.

5. Candide by Voltaire

Shortly after being released Candide was banned. The reason was its perceived blasphemy, obscenity and graphic descriptions of the main’s character tragedies and the brutalities brought by the war.

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6. Lolita by Vladimir Nobokov

Lolita was banned in numerous countries: United Kingdom, France, Argentina, South Africa and New Zealand. They believed there was portrayal of pedophilia even though there is no endorsement of pedophilia in the book or any kind of harshness and obscenities.

7. Fifty Shades Triology by E L James

The trilogy was banned in Malaysia as the Malaysian Censorship Board considered its content to be overall sadistic, pornographic and immoral. The movies have also been banned in Malaysia for the same reason.

8. The Decameron by Giovanni Boccachio

The 14th century collection century novellas was banned in US under the Federal Anti-Obscenity Act. Authorities believed that the book contained obscene descriptions of erotic scenes.

9. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye is a novel that for the most part depicts teenage angst and teenage rebellion. The main character Holden Caulfield has become a literary icon of teenage rebellion. The reason censors banned this widely popular book that is taught in schools worldwide is that they believed it influenced communist ideas and was influencing murders and suicides over the US.

10. American Psycho

This book was considered loathsome and too violent for some countries. In the Australian state of Queensland the classification laws gave this book a restricted classification and demanded that it only should be sold in a sealed wrapper and only to adults. The books depiction of violence, rape, cannibalism and necrophilia was considered deeply and extremely disturbing.

11. Uncle's Tom Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

This book was banned in the confederate states during the Civil War because of its anti-slavery content. What is interesting is that it was also banned in Russia by Nicholas I because it presented ideas of equality and also apparently undermined religion ideals.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Filip Stojkovski

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