SCL Picks: Banned Books Double-Feature

So many banned books, so little time… Today’s SCL Picks are:

James Baldwin’s Go tell it on the mountain (1953)

  • What it’s about: 

“‘Mountain,’ Baldwin said, ‘is the book I had to write if I was ever going to write anything else.’ Go Tell It On The Mountain, first published in 1953, is Baldwin’s first major work, a novel that has established itself as an American classic. With lyrical precision, psychological directness, resonating symbolic power, and a rage that is at once unrelenting and compassionate, Baldwin chronicles a fourteen-year-old boy’s discovery of the terms of his identity as the stepson of the minister of a storefront Pentecostal church in Harlem one Saturday in March of 1935. Baldwin’s rendering of his protagonist’s spiritual, sexual, and moral struggle of self-invention opened new possibilities in the American language and in the way Americans understand themselves.” (Summary by Syndetic Solutions)

“Challenged as required reading in the Hudson Falls, NY schools (1994) because the book has recurring themes of rape, masturbation, violence, and degrading treatment of women. Challenged as a ninth-grade summer reading option in Prince William County, VA (1988) because the book is ‘rife with profanity and explicit sex.’” (Source: ALA website)

Ralph Ellison’s Invisible man (1952)

  • What it’s about: 

“Invisible Man is a milestone in American literature, a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952.  A first novel by an unknown writer, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century.  The nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of ‘the Brotherhood,’ and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be.  The book is a passionate and witty tour de force of style, strongly influenced by T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land , Joyce, and Dostoevsky.” (Summary by Syndetic Solutions)

“Excerpts banned in Butler, PA (1975). Removed from the high school English reading list in St. Francis, WI (1975). Retained in the Yakima, WA schools (1994) after a five-month dispute over what advanced high school students should read in the classroom. Two parents raised concerns about profanity and images of violence and sexuality in the book and requested that it be removed from the reading list.” (Source: ALA website)

Curious to see what else has been banned over the years? Check out ALA‘s comprehensive lists of banned and frequently challenged books, which includes documentation  of both how and why these works have drawn the ire of vocal individuals and groups.

Did any of your favorites make the list? Have you been taking part in any activities for Banned Books Week? Let us know – we’d love to hear from you!  

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s