We all have read books at different points of time in our lives. Most of us are really fond of reading while others read for some specific purpose. There are different types of books, such as school textbooks, magazines, journals, etc. All these are written, published and read in order to meet certain requirements. But the fundamental purpose that a book serves is to provide the reader with some kind of information.controversial books
Books are not just a collection of pages bound together; they contain ideas, concepts, and things which not just reflect the human society but also has the power to change it. It is for this reason that books hold tremendous importance. However, books can be extremely provocative and sometimes dangerous also. In this section, we will look at some of the most controversial books written around the world.
This book written by James Joyce came at a time when people were highly sensitive to art. The writers were even punished severely and hacked to death for writing unaccepted content. In the case of this book, even before the book was published, its excerpts featured in the Little Review. And these excerpts led to the ban of this book in England. The ban was finally lifted in 1930.
‘The Kindly Ones’
It’s a novel which is set during the second world war. Written by Jonathan Littell, the novel is told from the perspective of a Nazi SS officer which represents the war-torn time wonderfully. It was also awarded two of the most prestigious French literary awards – the Grand Prix du roman de l’Académie française and the Prix Goncourt in 2006. Since it is translated in languages such as German and English, it has received huge criticism across the world, because people have found it violent and provocative.
‘The Satanic Verses’
Most of us are familiar with this book which is composed by Salman Rushdie, the famous South Asian novelist. This is one book that challenges the Islamic fundamentalism. In Venezuela, there is a punishment of fifteen-month imprisonment for just reading the book. In many other countries too, the book rarely reaches its readers.
Vladimir Nabokov had not even thought that his book would be labelled as “pornographic” and “filthy” and what not. It’s actually a story of a scholar from Paris who is obsessed with young women. To marry a young girl, this scholar first marries her mother and then elopes with her daughter. This book found space only in the U.S.
‘The Grapes of Wrath’
Written on the effect of Great Depression on the poor, this book by Jhon Steinbeck invited huge criticism in the U.S. where people burned it in large numbers. People were shocked by the writer’s description of the poor. It was banned in the Soviet Union completely because it showed that even the most destitute Americans could afford a car. Farmers in California were highly critical of this book. They regarded it as “communist propaganda” and “a pack of lies”. The writer was also put under surveillance by the FBI.
‘Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure’
Jhon Cleland, the writer of this book, must have been an open minded person, for he openly wrote this sexually charged book without caring about the society. In 1748, when this book came out, sex was certainly a taboo. As soon as the book printed out, it ran into huge controversy for its sexual content. Its publication remained shut in many countries around the world. In the U.S. the ban was lifted in 1966 – almost a century later. This book is often called as the first erotic novel in English.
‘The Communist Manifesto’
Most of us students are familiar with this remarkable but controversial manifesto. This text is produced by the famous philosopher and sociologist of the nineteenth century – Karl Marx. Along with Freidrich Egles, Marx prepared this radical manifesto for the workers. Marx in the mid-nineteenth century was fighting against capitalism. He was fighting for the rights of workers. This text came as a big blow to rapacious capitalists who sought a ban on this and thus it made its name in this list of controversial books of all time.
‘Origins of the Species’
This was one of the path-breaking texts written in the field of biology and natural sciences. This book written by Charles Darwin is a very well researched book where he traces the evolution of animal and plant species. He claims that species evolve with time and according to their different needs. Now, the problem with this book is that it refutes all non-scientific theories about birth and evolution. It has been accused of causing blasphemy by the ardent followers of Christianity, as the book goes against the commandments of the Bible.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, or popularly known as Mahatma Gandhi, who was a great Indian freedom fighter, composed this book on a ship when he was travelling from London to South Africa in November 1909. In this book, Gandhi endorses the idea of ‘Hind Swaraj’ which means home rule. He not only argues against an English-like society in India but also urges to adopt non-violent ways of acquiring independence. Initially, Gandhi wrote this book in his native language Gujarati and later it was also translated into English. This book came at a time when Indians were dying to get freedom. Hindi Swaraj was so influential and provocative that the British had to ban the original Gujarati version in India. However, the British did not ban the English translation of this text, for they thought that there were only a few who knew English.
‘The Indian War of Independence 1857’
We all know about the famous rebellion of 1857. This book is a nationalist history of that particular event. Written by one of the popular 20th century nationalist Vinayak Damodar Savarkar or VD Savarkar, this book captures the moment when thousands of Hindus and Muslims protested against the British. Soon after its publication in 1909, the same year when Gandhi’s Hind Swaraj was published, this book came into controversy for its seductive content. The British banned it throughout the country. However, it is said that the book was smuggled and read by the Indians through various dubious ways – like in the form of love stories and fairy tales. This book differs in ideology with Gandhi’s book. Unlike Gandhi, Savarkar was a violent and angry nationalist.