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So which banned books have you read this week?




This week has been Banned Books Week. It sounds like it might be some sort of quirky look at the shifting boundaries of acceptability - It's actually much more relevant and contemporary than that.


This week has been Banned Books Week. It sounds like it might be some sort of quirky look at the shifting boundaries of acceptability - 'Is it a book you would like your wife or servants to read?', etc.

It's actually much more relevant and contemporary than that, part of an ongoing debate about censorship and diversity and an acknowledgement that, yes, we can look back and laugh at decisions to ban books now regarded as classics, but we shouldn't be blind to continuing challenges to free speech.

It began in 1982 in the US and remains a mainly Stateside initiative, with the American Library Association heavily involved. But it has had quite a bit of media traction over here.

The centrepiece of the week is the unveiling of the 10 'most challenged' books of the year (not published this year, and not actually banned, just those that have had the most calls to be banned, usually by parents to schools). Here's the Guardian's pictorial run-down.

What the coalition behind Banned Books Week points out is that year after year the majority of books on the list are concerned with issues of diversity. And what it aims to do is 'increase awareness of the annual celebration of the freedom to read'.

Oh, go on then, here are a selection books we publish that, at one time or another, have been banned by a government. Starting, of course, with the highly offensive...

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Candide by Voltaire
Fanny Hill by John Cleland
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
Madame Bovary by Gustav Flaubert
Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
Ulysses by James Joyce

Read them if you dare. But make sure you have a fainting couch nearby.

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