Since the launch of Banned Books Week in 1982, more than 11,300 works of literature have been threatened with censorship in schools, bookstores and libraries across the United States, according to the American Library Association. Get the facts behind 10 classic works of literature that have been repeatedly pulled from bookshelves around the world.
Not all Americans have found Mark Twain’s Great American Novel so great. Weeks after the satire was published in 1885, librarians in Concord, Massachusetts, rejected it for being “rough, coarse and inelegant” and “more suited to the slums than to intelligent, respectable people.” Two decades later, the book was removed from the Brooklyn Public Library’s shelves in part because “Huck not only itched but scratched” and “said ‘sweat’ when he should have said ‘perspiration.’” Twain’s 19th-century racial language has also rankled some 21st-century readers, According to the American Library Association, the story of Huck and Jim journeying down the Mississippi River was the 14th most-challenged book between 2000 and 2009.
The vicious dog fights, mistreatment of animals and harsh undertones in Jack London’s tale of the Klondike gold rush have spurred censorship calls since its publication in 1903. However, it was the leftist political views of the author—who was twice the Socialist Party candidate for mayor of Oakland, California—rather than the book’s blood and gore that ran “The Call of the Wild” afoul of fascist authorities in Italy during the 1920s and early 1930s and resulted in the Nazi Party burning several of London’s socialist-leaning writings in 1933. Read more