The idea of literary censorship interests me. I didn’t really give it a second thought until recently, however. Sometime over the course of my studies at SOU, I had a professor who had recommended Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer. I usually write book recommendations down and revisit them later, which is exactly what I did in this case. Going back through my notes I found the recommendation and decided to give it a shot; after all, I respect the perspective of that professor.
Wow. Do I understand now why that book was banned in the US from the 1930s through to the 60s. I understand great literature can also be subversive, but Miller’s work still seems subversive today. It was also at the heart of a legal trial testing laws on pornography in the 60s. I don’t think any book should ever be censored, as is the case with the “re-wording” of Huck Finn to remove controversial language, or banned because every person has the right to chose for themselves what they will put before their eyes. But I do understand the reaction to Tropic of Cancer in the 30s for the boundaries it pushed.
All of this leads to my interest in censorship. I am going to look at (probably) 3 major incidences of book banning or censorship in the US in the twentieth century. I also will discuss the laws that 1) govern the use of censorship and 2) the cases that have shaped them.
Suprisingly, Wikipedia has given me a really great place to start deciding which cases to cover (I don’t usually find much of any interest on Wikipedia, but they have a very comprehensive list of banned books in the 19th and 20th centuries). But I’m still not sure what to discuss–Huck Finn for sure, Tropic of Cancer maybe….any suggestions?