100 Banned Books; Censorship Histories of World Literatureby Nicholas J. Karolides, Dawn B. Sova, Ken Wachsberger (Editor), Margaret Bald, Dawn B. Sova
Throughout history, writers have had their works of literature and social, political, and religious thought censored in the United States and around the world. 100 Banned Books profiles 25 well-known, often classic works in each of these categories that have especially significant censorship histories. Each clearly written entry in this eye-opening book gives readers a summary of the work, its censorship history, and suggestions for further reading.
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ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT
Author: Erich Maria Remarque Original date and place of publication: 1928, Germany; 1929, United States Publisher: Impropylaen-Verlag; Little, Brown and Company Literary form: Novel
He fell in October 1918, on a day that was so quiet and still on the whole front, that the army report confined itself to the single sentence: All quiet on the Western Front.
He had fallen forward and lay on the earth as though sleeping. Turning him over one saw that he could not have suffered long; his face had an expression of calm, as though almost glad the end had come.
This final passage of Remarque's renowned novel enunciates not only the irony of death of this unknown soldier, but also the irony of the wartime communiques that announced that there was nothing new to report while thousands were wounded and dying daily. (The German title of the novel, Im Westen Nichts Neues, translates as "nothing new in the West.") The final passage also signals the irony of the title, a bitterness that pervades the entire work.
There are many unknown soldiers in the novel on both sides of the trenches. They are the bodies piled three deep in the shell craters, the mutilated bodies thrown about in the fields, the "naked soldier squatting in the fork of a tree ... his helmet on, otherwise he is entirely unclad. There is one half of him sitting there, the top half, the legs are missing." They are the young Frenchmanin retreat who lags behind, is overtaken"a blow from a spade cleaves through his face."
The unknown soldiers are background. The novel focuses on Paul Baumer, the narrator, and his comrades of the Second Company, chiefly Albert Kropp, his close friend, and Stanislaus Katczinsky, the leader of the group. Katczinsky (Kat) is 40 years old; the others are 18 and 19. They are ordinary folk: Muller, who dreams of examinations; Tjaden, a locksmith; Haie Westhus, a peat-digger; and Detering, a peasant.
The novel opens five miles behind the front. The men are "at rest" after 14 days on the front line. Of the 150 men to go forward, only 80 have returned. A themeand the tone of disillusionmentis introduced immediately, the catalyst being the receipt of a letter from Kantorek, their former schoolmaster. It was he who had urged them all to volunteer, causing the hesitant ones to feel like cowards.
For us lads of eighteen [adults] ought to have been mediators and guides to the world of maturity.... in our hearts we trusted them. The idea of authority, which they represented, was associated in our minds with a greater insight and a manlier wisdom. But the first death we saw shattered this belief.... The first bombardment showed us our mistake, and under it the world as they had taught it to us broke in pieces.
This theme is repeated in Paul's conversation with adults at home during a leave. They evince deep ignorance of the nature of trench warfare and the living conditions and the dying. "Naturally it's worse here. Naturally. The best for our soldiers...." They argue about what territories ought to be annexed and how the war should be fought. Paul is unable to speak the truth to them.
Vignettes of the soldiers' lives pile up in the first several chapters: inhumane treatment of the recruits at the hands of a militaristic, rank-conscious corporal; the painful death of a schoolmate after a leg amputation; the meager food often in limited supply; the primitive housing; and glimpses of the fear and horror, the cries and explosions of the front. The experienced men reveal their distance from their youth, not merely the trench warfare smarts in contrast to the innocent unready replacement recruits. Gone was the "ideal and almost romantic character" of the war. They recognized that the "classical conception of the Fatherland held by our teachers resolved itself here into a renunciation of personality." They have been cut off from their youth and from the opportunity of growing up naturally; they cannot conceive a future.
After a major battle, Paul narrates: "Today we would pass through the scenes of our youth like travellers. We are burnt up by hard facts; like tradesmen we understand distinctions, and like butchers, necessities. We are no longer untroubledwe are indifferent. We long to be there; but could we live there?"
Paul experiences the depths of this alienation during his leave. Beyond recognition and a vivid yearning, he knows he is an outsider. He cannot get close to his family; of course, he is unable to reveal the truth of his terror-filled experiences, so he cannot seek their comfort. Sitting in the armchair in his room, his books before him, he tries to recapture the past and imagine the future. His comrades at the front seem the only reality.
Rumors of an offensive turn out to be true. They are accompanied by a high double-wall stack of yellow, unpolished, brand-new coffins and extra issues of food. When the enemy bombardment comes, the earth booms and heavy fire falls on them. The shells tear down the parapet, root up the embankment and demolish the upper layers of concrete. The rear is hit as well. A recruit loses control and must be forcibly restrained. The attack is met by machine-gun fire and hand grenades. Anger replaces fear.
No longer do we lie helpless, waiting on the scaffold, we can destroy and kill, to save ourselves, to save ourselves and be revenged ... crouching like cats we run on, overwhelmed by this wave that bears us along, that fills us with ferocity, turning us into thugs, into murderers, into God only knows what devils; this wave that multiplies our strength with fear and madness and greed of life, seeking and fighting for nothing but our deliverance. If your own father came over with them you would not hesitate to fling a bomb into him.
Attacks alternate with counterattacks and "slowly the dead pile up in the field of craters between the trenches." When it is over and the company is relieved, only 32 men answer the call.
In another situation the relative anonymity of trench warfare is erased. On patrol to scout out the enemy lines, Paul becomes separated from his own troops and finds himself in French territory. He hides in a shell hole, surrounded by exploding shells and sounds of activity. He is strained to the utmost, armed with fear and a knife. When a body crashes in upon him, he automatically slashes at and then shares the shell hole with the dying Frenchman who has become a person. He tries to dress the stab wounds. He is devoured by guilt:
Comrade, I did not want to kill you. If you jumped in here again, I would not do it, if you would be sensible too. But you were only an idea to me before, an abstraction that lived in my mind and called forth its appropriate response. It was that abstraction I stabbed. But now, for the first time, I see you are a man like me. I thought of your hand grenades, of your bayonet, of your rifle; now I see your wife and your face and our fellowship. Forgive me, comrade. We always see it too late.
There is a respite for the company, and then it is sent out to evacuate a village. During the march, both Paul and Albert Kropp are wounded, Albert seriously. Hospitalized, they fear the amputation-prone doctors; Kropp loses his leg; he does not want to live a "cripple." Paul hobbles around the hospital during his recovery, visiting the wards, increasingly aware of shattered bodies:
And this is only one hospital, one single station; there are hundreds of thousands in Germany, hundreds of thousands in France, hundreds of thousands in Russia. How senseless is everything that can be written, done, or thought, when such things are possible. It must all be lies and of no account when the culture of a thousand years could not prevent this stream of blood being poured out, these torture-chambers in their hundreds of thousands. A hospital alone shows what war is.
Back at the front the war continues, death continues. One by one the circle of comrades is killed. Detering, maddened for home by the sight of a cherry tree in bloom, attempts to desert but is captured. Only Paul, Kat and Tjaden are alive. In the late summer of 1918 Kat sustains a leg injury; Paul attempts to carry him to a medical facility. Near collapse, he stumbles and falls as he reaches the dressing station. He rises only to discover that Kat is dead; en route he has sustained a splinter in the head.
In the autumn there is talk of peace and armistice. Paul meditates about the future:
And men will not understand usfor the generation that grew up before us, though it has passed these years with us here, already had a home and a calling; now it will return to its old occupations, and the war will be forgottenand the generation that has grown up after us will be strange to us and push us aside. We will be superfluous even to ourselves, we will grow older, a few will adapt themselves, some other will merely submit, and most will be bewildered;the years will pass by and in the end we shall fall into ruin.
When All Quiet on the Western Front was issued in Germany in 1928, National Socialism was already a powerful political force. In the social political context a decade after the war, the novel generated a strong popular response, selling 600,000 copies before it was issued in the United States, but it also generated significant resentment. It affronted the National Socialists, who read it as slanderous to their ideals of home and fatherland. This resentment led to political pamphleteering against it. It was banned in Germany in 1930. In 1933, all of Remarque's works were consigned to the infamous bonfires. On May 10, the first large-scale demonstration occurred in front of the University of Berlin: students gathered 25,000 volumes of Jewish authors; 40,000 "unenthusiastic" people watched. Similar demonstrations took place at other universities; in Munich 5,000 children watched and participated in burning books labeled marxist and un-German.
Remarque, who had not been silenced by the violent attacks against his book, published in 1930 a sequel, The Road Back. By 1932, however, he escaped Nazi harassment by moving to Switzerland and then to the United States.
Bannings occurred in other European countries. In 1929, Austrian soldiers were forbidden to read the book, and in Czechoslovakia it was barred from military libraries. In 1933 in Italy, the translation was banned because of its antiwar propaganda.
In the United States, in 1929, the publishers Little, Brown and Company acceded to suggestions of the Book-of-the-Month Club judges, who had selected the novel as the club's June selection, to make some changes; they deleted three words, five phrases and two entire episodesone of makeshift latrine arrangements and the other a hospital scene during which a married couple, separated for two years, have intercourse. The publishers argued that "some words and sentences were too robust for our American edition" and that without the changes there might be conflict with federal law and certainly with Massachusetts law. Decades later, another kind of publisher's censorship was revealed by Remarque himself. Putnam's had rejected the book in 1929 despite the evidence of its considerable success in Europe. According to the author, "some idiot said he would not publish a book by a `Hun'."
Nevertheless, All Quiet on the Western Front was banned in Boston in 1929 on grounds of obscenity. In the same year, in Chicago, U.S. Customs seized copies of the English translation, which had not been expurgated. It is still identified as censored in the People for the American Way school censorship survey, "Attacks on the Freedom to Learn, 1987-1988," the charge being "offensive language." The suggestion is, however, that censors have shifted their tactics, using these charges instead of such traditional accusations as globalism or "far-right scare words." Jonathon Green in his Encyclopedia as Censorship identifies All Quiet on the Western Front as one of the "most often" censored books.
"Censorship Continues Unabated; Extremists Adapt Mainstream Tactics." Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, 37 (1988): 193.
Geller, Evelyn. Forbidden Books in American Public Libraries, 1876-1939: A Study in Cultural Change. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1984.
Green, Jonathon. Encyclopedia of Censorship. New York: Facts On File, 1990.
Haight, Anne L., and Chandler B. Grannis. Banned Books: 387 B.C. to 1978 A.D. 4th ed. New York: R. R. Bowker, 1978.
Hansen, Harry. "The Book That Shocked a Nation." In All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque. New York: Heritage Press, 1969.
Tebbel, John. A history of Book Publishing in the United States, Vol. III. New York: R. R. Bowker, 1978.
Author: MacKinlay Kantor
Original date and place of publication: 1955, United States
Publisher: The World Publishing Company
Literary form: Novel
Andersonville is a novel of warthe Civil War; it does not, however, fit the stereotype of war novels, for it offers little action on the battlefield, strategies and troop movements or individual responses to such situations in the manner of Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage or Erich Maria Remarque's ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT. There are essentially two settings: Ira Claffey's Georgia plantation and Andersonville, a prison for captured Yankees.
Episodic in structure, the novel provides access to Ira's life and his emotional and intellectual reactions to the war and the prison. These episodes, interspersed among those that focus on Yankee prisoners and Confederate officers and guards, provide plot movement.
Managing his plantation from the outset of the war without the help of an overseer, Ira Claffey is perceived as capable and honest. In this the last year of the war, he nurtures his family with compassion. Only two live on the plantation with him: Veronica, his wife, and Lucy, their daughter. They are joined during this year by Surgeon Harry Elkins, formerly a comrade-in-arms of the Claffey's eldest son. This son and another have already died in battle; their third son is reported dead early in the novel. This final bereavement casts a shroud over the mind of Veronica. She gradually distances herself from the living and fades into the past. Lucy bears these burdens and the death of her fiancé with pain and anger and courage.
Ira is not a secessionist; he does not favor the war. Initially angry and embittered, he grieves for his sons. His philosophy and nature help him to acknowledge the reality of war's destruction and that families in the North also grieve for their lost sons.
Deploring cruelty, Ira treats his slaves, now totaling 12 including children, with paternalistic kindness. He will not allow them to be mistreated by the Confederate soldiers; and when he must sell them, he assures himself that they will not be mistreated. At the end of the war he informs them of their freedom and their right to leave; however, out of concern for their safety and welfare, he urges them to remain on the plantation as salaried employees. When one couple decides to leave, he gives them a mule and cart so their young children won't have to walk.
Ira's sense of compassion is intensified with the advent of the stockade. At first he disbelieves the deliberate intern, as voiced by Captain Winder, to mistreat the prisoners by providing no shelter from the elements, to cause their deaths. He is increasingly horrified by the brutality and miserable conditions. He attempts to helpprotesting to the officers, joining his neighbors to bring food and clothing for the prisoners (these are rejected), traveling to Richmond to gain the ear of President Jefferson Davis, a friend from his military daysbut realizes his helplessness.
Others join him in these attitudes. Chief among them is Surgeon Elkins, who, having come to investigate the health conditions, returns out of a humane sense of obligation to tend the sick. The post commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Persons, of like mind, puts his career on the line to protest the actions of Confederate brigadier-general John H. Winder and his son, Captain Sid Winder. Other inspectors follow suit; Dr. Joseph Jones concludes his highly critical report with the following:
This gigantic mass of human misery calls loudly for relief, not only for the sake of suffering humanity, but also on account of our own brave soldiers now captives in the hands of the Federal government. Strict justice to the gallant men of the Confederate armies, who have been or who may be so unfortunate as to be compelled to surrender in battle, demands that the Confederate government should adopt that course which will best secure their health and comfort in captivity; or at least leave their enemies without a shadow of an excuse for any violation of the rules of civilized warfare in the treatment of prisoners.
In counterpoint to these beacons of humanity are Brigadier-General Winder and Captain Winder, whose intentions are revealed in this statement by the captain in response to Surgeon Elkins's concern that there are no shelters built or trees left to shield the prisoners from the hot Georgia sun: "What the hell's the use of coddling a pen full of Yankees? I've got a pen here that ought to kill more God damn Yankees than you ever saw killed at the front." The general demonstrates a more rabid expression of these intentions.
General Winder assigns Captain Henry Wirz as superintendent of the prison. Wirz, a doctor by profession, made intensely irritable and vituperative by an arm wound, brutalizes the prisoners: they are tyrannized; their diet is insufficient in both quantity and nutrients; their living conditions are abominable. A failure as an administrator, his efforts are ineffectual. Wirz is in part victim of a situation he cannot control: the vindictiveness of the Winders; the overloading of the compound; lack or denial of food and medical supplies.
The stockade and the prisoners are, however, the core of the novel. The stockade's 27 acres, intended for some 10,000 men, held upwards of 30,000 at one time. (Of the 50,000 prisoners received there, about 16,000 died.) With no sanitation facilities, the area soon becomes putrid, its limited water supply polluted, its stench befouling the surrounding neighborhood. The Yankees die from dysentery, scurvy and polluted water; wounds, scratches and stings festered into gangrene. Others die of starvation and violence, groups of "raiders" attacking and stealing from the weak, the innocent, the unprepared among them.
Against the background of ever-increasing privation and brutality, decay and death, individual prisoners are spotlighted. Their origins and childhoods, their initial responses to the war are counterpoints to their immediate situation. How they survivewhether they survivereveals their natures. Edward Blamey, a New England fisherman, survives, though he initially resists, by selling his extraordinary eyesight to the raider, Willie Collins, in return for protection and creature comforts. Blamey spies goods among the other prisoners that can be stolen. Collins, surly and corrupt since childhood, uses his brute strength and amorality to build a power structure in which the "raiders" within the stockade terrorize fellow prisoners. He is finally tried, condemned and hanged, along with others of his ilk by a group of prisoners, organized by Seneca MacBean and Nathan Dreyfoos, a semi-educated midwesterner and an upper-class easterner. The Iowan Eben Dolliver's childhood is filled with a consciousness of birds, with birdsong; he is driven by starvation to attack a swallow for food. At age 13, Willie Mann of Missouri had rescued several immigrant German children from a bully; subsequently he fell in love with one of them and now is sustained by dreams of returning to her. He survives because his doctor father had taught him the health value of pure water; he refuses to drink except when it rains.
A minor plot strand, the story of the poor white Tebbs family, particularly a vignette of the eldest son, brings the novel to fruition. Having enlisted at age 17, Coral returns home without a foot. Embittered, depressed, he flails at his family and at his life. While searching for a bird he has shot, he discovers an escaped prisoner lacking a hand, just about dead from starvation and weariness. Both have lost their limbs at Gettysburg. Coral on an impulse decides to help him with food and a hideout; the Yankee boy, Nazareth Strider front Pennsylvania, helps Coral in return by shaping a "peg-leg-foot" for him, with knowledge gleaned from his father's craft and tools borrowed from Ira Claffey. When Ira discovers their secret, he shocks them both by helping. Again, Ira's humanity emerges; he muses as he works on the wooden foot, "It seemed odd to be performing a service for a wounded Yankee and a wounded Confederate in the same act and in the same breath." Acts of humanity unite the two boys.
The novel continues for another 40 pages beyond this episode to encompass the defeat of the Confederacy, the release of the prisoners and the military arrest of Wirz. Two of Ira's adult slaves with their children take advantage of their freedom and leave; Coral Tebbs finds employment as their replacement. However, the crescendo of the novel is in the mutual salvation of Coral and Nazareth, and in the symbolic healing and reunification it expresses.
Andersonville was challenged by Laurence Van Der Oord, the father of an Amherst (Ohio) High School student in 1967. Identifying the novel as "filth," he claimed his 16-year-old daughter couldn't read it because she didn't understand the obscene words. He indicated that the book was 1 percent history and 99 percent filth, and demanded that Donald Hicks, the history teacher who had assigned the novel as an optional choice, be dismissed.
Hicks countered that the relative worth of the novel outweighed the objectionable parts; about 30 of the 795 pages contain slightly obscene language. Defense of the novel was also offered by the school board president, Mrs. Clem Rice: "... maybe we should not shield high school students.... Perhaps they should know these facts exist even though they are bad and may not exist in our community." On August 24, the school superintendent announced that he would not order the removal of the book.
In 1973, a Buncombe County, North Carolina, school board member, Edna Roberts, removed several books, including Andersonville, from their high school library, claiming they were "unsuitable" for school libraries because they contained objectionable language. Subsequently, she introduced a resolution to the board that would have "expunged `unsuitable' books from school libraries. The board rejected it, reaffirming its "Policies for Selection." Mrs. Roberts's efforts were supported by the Christian Action League and Answer for America.
Buncombe County in 1981 was the scene of another controversy over classroom and library books, including, among others, Andersonville. The protest was initiated by a group of citizens meeting at Asheville's Owens High School in January; the meeting was led by several fundamentalist ministers, a chief spokesperson being Wendell Runion, who had organized the Concerned Citizens of Owens District group. The books on the list were labeled obscene. The group planned to file a grievance with the Buncombe County schools' administration to get the books removed. In February, an opposition group, calling itself "Books," was organized to provide an alternative perspective. On February 19, more than 1,000 residents attended a forum to air the two positions. Those opposed to the current book selection policy called for closing loopholes that "promote immorality." Pastor Randy Stone noted, "The use of God's name in vain, whether it be in a Pulitzer-prize winner or a book from an adult bookstore, is offensive to us and demands some sort of attention." Books's spokespersons included Loretta Martin, the president of the North Carolina Association of Educators, and Elsie Brumbeck, the director of educational media for the State Department of Public Instruction. Martin said, "Our schools are the only institution today that seeks to free the human mind." Brumbeck read a letter from the North Carolina Library Association in support of Buncombe County's current selection policy. Receiving the strongest accolade, however, was Pastor Fred Ohler, who, in support of the book selection policy, asked, "Why is immorality seen only as profanity and sexuality in Steinbeck, Salinger or Kantor and the larger issues of grinding poverty and social misjustice, of adult hypocrisy, of war camp atrocities never faced?" Referring to the list of quotations from the challenged books, he continued, "To read the Bible as some folks read The Grapes of Wrath would be like going through the Gospels and only seeing tax collectors, wine-bibers and Mary Magdalene." In March the Buncombe County Board of Education voted (5-2) to support the book selection policy.
Andersonville was withdrawn from the eleventh grade reading list at the Whitehall, Michigan, high school on December 12, 1963. An "unspecified number of unidentified complaints" were received by Superintendent of Schools Melvin Lubbers and County Prosecutor Harry J. Knudsen; the latter indicated he didn't care if the book had won 20 Pulitzer Prizes; it wasn't fit reading for high school students. One parent, Jane Moog, angry about the dropping of the book, termed the act a "violation of civil liberties." Lubbers indicated that they did not quarrel with the author's message, but it was not of "sufficient benefit to justify putting it before the young mind." Despite a defense of the book by a school board member, Evelyn Robinson, and Circuit Judge John H. Piercy, the board of education voted 6-1 in support of Lubbers.
In 1961, under the leadership of J. Evetts Haley, Texans for America, a right-wing group, supported by the Daughters of the American Revolution and the John Birch Society, attacked the language and concepts of a range of history books. They succeeded in causing the State Textbook Committee to reject 12 books opposed by the Texans for America and four opposed by the DAR. In addition, substantial changes in their texts were required of publishers for specific books.
These textbook battles spilled over to affect library books. Andersonville was banned from the four Amarillo high schools and at Amarillo College. The cited reasons were its political ideas and that its author was cited by the House Un-American Activities Committee. In 1962, a committee of inquiry, instigated by a Texas House of Representatives resolution, investigated the content of school books, searching for subversion of American principles and traditions. At an Austin hearing, excerpts from Andersonville were read as examples of obscenity and filth.
An attempt to ban Andersonville was also reported in Rock County in Wisconsin in 1969.
Blake, Barbara. "Who Is the Rev. Wendell Bunion and Why Does He Want Those
Books Banned?" Asheville Citizen (January 31, 1981): [n.p.]).
Burress, Lee. The Battle of the Books: Literary Censorship in Public Schools, 1950-85, Metuchen, N.J.: The Scarecrow Press, 1989.
Campbell, John, Jr. "Concern Expressed Over Books in Schools." Asheville Citizen (January 23, 1981): [n.p.].
--. "Large Crowd Gathers for Sessions on Books." Asheville Citizen (February 20, 1981): 17.
Grisso, James L. "Amherst High Keeps Andersonville." Cleveland Plain Dealer (August 25, 1967): [n.p.].
Hoyle Bolick, Sandy. "Book Issue: Pros, Cons." Asheville Times (February 20, 1981): [n.p.].
Nelson, Jack, and Gene Roberts, Jr. The Censors and the Schools. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1963.
Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom 13 (1964): 14; 22 (1973): 52; 30 (1981): 74.
"Official Removes `Objectional' Books." St. Louis Post Dispatch (March 28, 1973): 22A.
"Pro Books Group Is Organized in County." Asheville Citizen (February 14, 1981): 7.
Rock County Librarians United to Battle Would-Be Banners." Beloit Daily News (April 17, 1969): [n.p.].
Author: George Orwell Original date and place of publication: 1945, England; 1946, United States Publisher: Secker & Warburg; Harcourt, Brace & World Literary form: Novel
George Orwell's subtitle, "A Fairy Story," reveals that he is not focusing on reality in the traditional sense. Indeed, his characters are animals who rebel against humans and take over Manor Farm, renaming it Animal Farm. Orwell, as quoted by C. M. Woodhouse, from the Times Literary Supplement, in the preface to the Signet Classics 29th edition (dated August 6, 1954), wrote "Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly against totalitarianism ... Animal Farm was the first book in which I tried, with full consciousness ..., to fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one whole."
The animals' rebellion can be traced back to old Major, the prize-winning boar who assembles the animals one night to communicate to them his strange dream. He sermonizes about the low state of animals at the hands of humans, a life of hard work for which there is no reward except bare rations and a stall; since Man consumes without producing, animals must resolve to bear enmity toward humans. Through his dream he predicts that Man will be vanquished and animals will reign in freedom.
Inspired to a new outlook, the animals secretly begin planning for a Rebellion. The pigs, deemed the cleverest, take charge, under the leadership of Snowball and Napoleon. Several months later, when Mr. Jones gets drunk and sleeps through the day, forgetting to feed the animals, they respond to their hunger and angry frustration by taking action. They gain control of the farm.
At first, all is bliss; that is, equality among the animals is practiced. Seven Commandments are identified and painted on the barn wall, expressing that "All animals are equal" and other tenets, chiefly reflecting animosity toward humans and their ways. The animals work hard together, completing farm tasks for the good of the community. Boxer, the horse, is foremost with his energy and power, establishing for himself an "I will work harder" motto. The animals also fight off, under the leadership of Snowball, a counterattack from Jones and his men. After this, an even greater spirit and sense of dedication prevail.
The bliss and equality, however, are marred: first, the pigs quietly take the daily milk for themselves; then, they commandeer the windfall apples. It seems natural that they should take charge and direct the farm's activities, and natural that they should work at organizing and planning, rather than laboring in the fields. The less clever animals accept this and are confused by the quarrels between Snowball and Napoleon.
Their disputes come to a head over the windmill proposed by Snowball. When he appears to have carried the vote, Napoleon gives a high-pitched whimper; nine enormous dogs, which he had secretly trained, dash into the barn and attack Snowball, who only barely manages to escape. Napoleon's autocratic regime is thus initiated, the troubled animals too shocked and terrified to react to the new edicts. The new code words now are "loyalty and obedience."
The animals adhere to their duties while Napoleon tightens his control, exacting more work from them, giving them less food and less relaxation time. When Napoleon establishes trade relations with the enemy, there is vague uneasiness among the animals; however, they accept the assurances made by Squealer, Napoleon's mouthpiece. They also accept the scapegoating of Snowball for everything that goes wrong, a pattern that begins with moderate accusations but escalates to denouncing his past purposes, putting him in secret league with the enemy. At an assembly, Napoleon, surrounded by his snarling dogs, demands "confessions" of all disloyal animals; hearing these, he orders the guilty animals slaughtered on the spot by his dogs.
These indignities are suffered. The animals, frightened and disturbed, are mournful. They perceive that their dream of a "society of animals set free from hunger and the whip, all equal, each working according to his capacity, the strong protecting the weak" is somehow in jeopardy. The more astute of them, Boxer and Clover, the horses, and Muriel, the goat, note that some of the commandments seem changed"without cause" has been added to "no animal shall kill any other animal"but can't be certain, can't quite remember how it had originally read.
In the succeeding months, another invasion is fought off, but less successfully. Napoleon, unlike Snowball, directs the animal forces from the rear. Boxer, who is injured in the attack, continues to work but collapses from overexertion. He is presumably being taken to a veterinarian for treatment but is picked up by a truck labeled "Horse Slaughterer and Glue Boiler." This reading is forcibly denied by Squealer as "wicked rumour."
Years later, only a few of the original animals live. The Rebellion has faded in their memories; the succeeding animals don't know anything about it. Three startling events conclude the fairy story: the pigs start walking on their hind legs; only a single Commandment remains on the barn wall"All animals are equal but some Animals are more equal than others"; Napoleon hosts a party, the guests being the neighborhood human farmers. Clover and other animals watch through the window as a farmer toasts Napoleon for his discipline over the "lower animals," for getting them to do more work yet feeding them less. Napoleon announces in his return toast the changed name of the farm, from "Animal Farm" to "Manor Farm." As the creatures outside watch, the pigs and men inside become indistinguishable"from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."
Animal Farm was one of 64 books of literature banned from classroom teaching at Bay and Mosley High Schools in Panama City, Florida, on May 7, 1987. The action was taken by Bay County. School Superintendent Leonard Hall. Although six days later the Bay County School Board reinstated all 64 texts, the controversy did not end. The situation and issues are detailed in the censorship history discussion of I AM THE CHEESE by Robert Cormier.
A survey of censorship challenges in the schools, conducted in DeKalb County, Georgia, in 1982 for the period 1979 to 1982, revealed that Animal Farm had been objected to for its political theories. (The survey's list does not provide details.)
A comparable study of censorship in New York State English classrooms was conducted in 1968 by the New York State English Council's Committee on Defenses Against Censorship. Its findings, based on 160 returns, identified Animal Farm to be high on its list of "problem books"; the reason cited was that "Orwell was a communist."
A Wisconsin survey in 1963 revealed that the John Birch Society had challenged the use of Animal Farm; it objected to the words "masses will revolt."
Under the heading "index of banned books," Jonathon Green in Encyclopedia of Censorhip identifies Animal Farm as one of the "most often" censored books.
Burress, Lee. The Battle of the Books: Literary Censorship in Public Schools, 1950-1985. Metuchen, N.J.: The Scarecrow Press, 1989.
Fransecky, Roger B. "Censorship and the Teaching of English." Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom 17 (1968): 39-40.
Green, Jonathon. Encyclopedia of Censorship. New York: Facts On File, 1990.
Kegler, Sissy, and Gene Guerro. "Censorship in the South." Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom 35 (1986): 29, 56.
Orwell, George. Animal Farm. New York: New American Library, 1946.
Author: John Milton
Original date and place of publication: 1644, England; 1888, United States
Publisher: [s.n.]; Cassell & Company
Literary form: Nonfiction essay
The title of John Milton's most famous prose work was derived from Areopagus, the hill of Ares in Athens named after Ares, one of the 12 major gods of ancient Greece. At this site the highest judicial court of ancient Athens met to debate political and religious matters. Its nearly 300 members were elected by a vote of all the freed men of the city. Identified with the glory of Athens's democratic institutions, the title Areopagitica reveals Milton's inclinations. The subtitle, "A Speech for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing to the Parliament of England," identifies his intent.
In his "The Second Defense of the people of England," published in 1654, Milton noted, I wrote my Areopagetica in order to deliver the press from the restraints with which it was encumbered; that the power of determining what was true and what was false, what ought to be published and what to be suppressed, might no longer be entrusted to a few illiterate and illiberal individuals, who refused their sanction to any work which contained views or sentiments at all above the level of vulgar superstition.
It was specifically directed against the Order of Parliament of June 14, 1643, an ordinance requiring the licensing of all books and pamphlets in advance of publication. (It also expresses significant ideas of religious liberty, interrelated with those of freedom of the press; however, these will not be discussed here.)
Milton recognized the great concern the "Church and Commonwealth" had about the contents of books "for books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life.... they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them." However, he argued that "Who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God's image; but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself, kills the image of God, as it were in the eye."
Milton decried censoring activities that represented what is now termed prior restraint; indeed, this becomes a basic tenet of his discussion. He likened the impulse to license to the prohibitory attitudes and actions of the Papal Court, which led to the Spanish Inquisition. He noted that their censoring acts spread from the heretical to any subject they found unsuitable, thus expressing a warning about the pattern of censorship. Before this "tyrannous inquisition," books were allowed to be born into the world, judgment about them reserved. Continuing this metaphor, rather than stand before a jury prior to birth to be judged in darkness without any public scrutiny, books should be examined more openly after publication.
Historical examples are used to support this position. He identifies practices in classical Athens and early Christianity, finding them free of control prior to publication and in all instances after publication except atheism, blasphemy and libel. One example is the burning of the books of Protagoras and the banishing of the author himself upon command of the judges of Areopagus; Protagoras had written that he did not know "whether there were gods, or whether not."
The value of knowledge and learning forms a cornerstone of Milton's discussion. Books enhance our understanding of the known and introduce us to the new. The Order of Parliament would "suppress all this flowry crop of knowledge ... to bring a famine upon our minds again" and allow the people to know only what the licensers permit. He likens this to the state of ignorance to which the decree of Julian the Apostate reduced the Christians, forbidding them to study the heathen texts. Thus, licensing would greatly discourage learning by reducing access to information and discussion. Restraining the freedom to write and the liberty of printing nullifies the privilege of the people and shackles the freedom to learn.
Knowledge thrives on the mind's exercise as does the discovery and affirmation of truth. His illustrations encompass the religious and scientific, attaining the truth by examining all opinions, even errors, so they may be known and evaluated. Individuals who base their beliefs solely on what they are told by their pastors or as determined by the assembly without knowing reasons cannot be said to understand. Even if the doctrine is true in an objective sense, it is not believed in the right way. It has not been questioned or examined, thus not really understood; the belief is superficial. An unlicensed press can propose challenges to cause thinking, thus enhancing the understanding of accepted beliefs or revealing new truths. Milton proposes these concepts for both the nation and individuals.
Extending this position, Milton promotes the reading of all texts, the good as well as those of "evil substance." The latter to a "discreet and judicious reader serve in many respects to discover, to confute, to forewarn, and to illustrate." Truth and virtue are attained by including all opinions, even errors, so they may be known and reasoned. Individuals are put in positions of having to make moral choices between the good and evil that surround them.
Since therefore the knowledge and survey of vice is in this world so necessary to the constituting of human virtue, and the scanning of error to the confirmation of truth, how can we more safely, and with less danger, scout into the regions of sin and falsity than by reading all manner of tractate, and hearing all manner of reason? And this is the benefit which may be had of books promiscuously read.
Milton drew a cause-and-effect connection between the actions of government and the nature of the populace. An "oppressive, arbitrary and tyrannous" government breeds a "brutish, formall, and slavish" people. A mild and free human government promotes liberty, the liberty of free writing and free speaking. These in the past have enlightened the spirits, enfranchised and enlarged the apprehensions of the English people, making them more capable, more knowing and more eager to pursue the truth. These attributes would be suppressed by the enforcement of this order.
The effectiveness of the order is also questioned. One aspect is the licensers themselves: they need to be above all other men to accomplish the task without bias, but are apt to be ignorant, corrupt or overworked. Another is the assumption that books themselves are the sole source of ideas and behaviors that are perceived by the authorities to be censorable. Milton refutes both of these, arguing, as summarized above, the efficacy of books, thus the requirement of unlicensed printing.
Licensing of books, which should be understood as the suppression of undesired publications, was a frequent policy in England. As early as 1408, confirmed by Parliament in 1414, Archbishop Arundel's constitution forbade the reading of any book that had not been examined and approved by the University of Oxford or Cambridge. Henry the VIII forbade the printing of any books concerning holy scripture unless it had been examined or approved. This was spread to the licensing of books of any kind. This policy was reasserted by the monarchs who succeeded himEdward, Mary, Elizabeth, James and Charles.
The practice and procedures of censorship had been developed in England over the 16th and 17th centuries, including the incorporation of a Stationers Company charged with the administration of the system. In 1637, in Charles's reign, the Star Chamber decree of July 11 established a broad range of censorship measures that forbade the printing, importing or selling of seditious or offensive books; required the licensing of all books before being printed or reprinted; limited the number of master printers, specifying the number of presses and workers each might have; forbade the providing of space for unlicensed printers; and empowered the Stationers Company to search houses for such unlicensed printers.
In 1641, the Star Chamber had been abolished, an outcome of the defeat of Charles in the English Civil War. Though the Stationers Company was not abolished, its powers were diminished; for about 18 months there were no statutory restrictions on the press. Gradually, the openness was narrowed. In 1643, the Puritans through a series of regulations, preceded by a 1642 regulation mandating that every publication bear the name of the printer, reinstated censorship practices until they were in full force. A significant factor underpinning these actions was the religious toleration controversy of the time.
In this context, John Milton published in 1643 Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce without benefit of authorization, registration or signature, by then required. It was reprinted in February 1644, again without being authorized or registered, though it was signed. At this time the Royalists suffered a defeat, causing the Westminster Assembly (an advisory body to Parliament about reformation of the church, dominated by Presbyterians) to condemn tracts favoring toleration. A sermon on this subject, preached before Parliament, spoke against illegal books and identified Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce as immoral. Further, booksellers, united in a corporation, complained about illegal books to the House of Commons, denouncing Milton among others.
These were the direct catalysts of Areopagitica. Issued on November 23, 1644, it also was published without benefit of authorization or registration and in defiance of the restraining ordinance. (It was also delivered orally before Parliament.) On December 9, the booksellers complained to the House of Lords, but the lords took no action.
Milton's attack on licensing had no effect on Parliament's policy. Indeed, licensing was reasserted several times and continued to be practiced until 20 years after Milton's death, in 1694. Frederick Seaton Siebert notes that Areopagitica had "very little effect" on Milton's contemporaries; it "went unmentioned by most of the writers and public men of the times."
After the execution of Charles I and the abolition of the monarchy, Oliver Cromwell, named as lord protector in 1658, condemned Areopagitica as did the "Little Parliament" of Protestant England which had succeeded the expelled House of Commons.
Areopagitica appeared in only one edition and was not republished until 1738. At this time it aroused public support for the concept of freedom of the mind. According to Siebert, a significant factor in this change in public opinion was the Peter Zenger trial in a colonial courtroom in New York. Zenger's acquittal of libel of the royal governor was perceived as a freedom of the press issue; the publication of the trial transcript, four editions in London in 1728, notes Siebert, "undoubtedly set on example for English juries."
Green, Jonathon. The Encyclopedia of Censorship. New York: Facts On File, 1990.
Haight, Anne Lyon, and Chandler B. Grannis. Banned Books: 387 B.C. to 1978 A.D. 4th ed. New York: R.R. Bowker Company, 1978.
Hunter, William 1978. B., ed. A Milton Encyclopedia. Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell University Press, 1978.
Saillens, Emile. John Milton: Man, Poet, Polemist. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1964.
Siebert, Fredrick Seaton. Freedom of the Press in England, 1476-1776. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1965.
Sirluck, Ernest. "Preface and Notes." In Complete Prose Works of John Milton, Vol. II. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1959.
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This book is great for researching! Not only does it give you a summary of each book and the reason it was banned, it also gives you a list of other sources with more information on the banning of each of the books! I wish all books did that! It's great!
This is a wonderful book that tells readers what their real rights are. Also states the First Amendment's purpose. Why don't we have the right to choose what we want to read or what needs to be in our libraries? Why do others have the rights? This book is great for reasearch projects and essays. Be sure to check it out!