Controversial Classics

Obscene! Racist! Immoral! Blasphemous!

Which novels have been especially controversial, resulting in court cases, the banning of the book, death threats and violence?

What would it take for you to wish to ban a novel? What makes a book too controversial for public opinion? Tell me in a comment.

Come with me on a fabulous reading journey through 2020. Together we will explore a thought-provoking selection of 19th and 20th Century classics. For each novel you will receive an illustrated monograph packed full of intriguing stories about the author behind the book, explaining its themes, tempting you with film versions to watch, and challenging you with discussion questions.

I love to share my passion for great literature. Please consider joining me in this literary exploration.

The word ‘controversial’ means “giving rise or likely to give rise to controversy or public disagreement”. But surely not everyone is going to agree about any one novel, and isn’t it part of the point of novels that they stretch our minds, display to us the experiences of lives very different from our own, and that they make us think? Long live controversy in novels, I say!

But not everyone agrees, and over the centuries books have been banned for many reasons.

This guide tells you about some famous books that have raised the ire of the authorities and have been banned as a result. Some books have been controversial for religious reasons, others for having content that was too sexually explicit, others for a use of language that the public was simply not yet ready for. Why was Shakespeare’s King Lear banned for several decades? What was it about the children’s story The Rabbit’s Wedding that so disturbed Americans? How have publishers and booksellers been punished over the years? Why is the American classic Huckleberry Finn consistently being banned from school libraries?

“What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.”
– Salman Rushdie

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