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Book censorship

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Title: Book censorship  
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Subject: Censorship, Media regulation, Film censorship, Self-censorship, Religious censorship
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Book censorship

Book censorship is when a book is removed from the shelf of a library. It can be enacted at the national or subnational level, and can carry legal penalties. Books may also be challenged at a local community level, although successful bans do not extend outside of that area. Similarly, religions may issue lists of banned books—a historical example being the Roman Catholic Church's Index Librorum Prohibitorum—which do not always carry legal force.


"Almost every country places some restrictions on what may be published, although the emphasis and the degree of control differ from country to country and at different periods."[1] There are a variety of reasons for which books may be banned. Materials are often suppressed due to the perceived notion of obscenity. This obscenity can apply to materials that are about sexuality, race, drugs, or social standing.[2] The censorship of literature on the charge of obscenity appears to have begun in the early 19th century.[3] The rise of the middle class, who had evangelical backgrounds, brought about this concern with obscenity.[4]

Governments have also sought to ban certain books which they perceive to contain material that could threaten, embarrass, or criticize them.[5]

Other leaders outside of the government have banned books, including religious authorities.[6] Church leaders who prohibit members of their faith from reading the banned books may want to shelter them from perceived obscene, immoral, or profane ideas or situations or from ideas that may challenge the teaching of that religion.[7]

But even religious materials have been subject to censorship. For example, various scriptures have been banned (and sometimes burned at several points in history). The Bible, and other religious scriptures have all been subjected to censorship and have been banned by various governments. Similarly, books based on the scriptures have also been banned, such as Leo Tolstoy's The Kingdom of God Is Within You, which was banned in the Russian Empire for being anti-establishment.[8]

Banning of a book, ironically often has the effect of making people seek out the book.[9] The action of banning the book creates an interest in the book which has the opposite effect of making the work more popular.[10]

Book burning

Book burning is the practice of destroying, often ceremonially, books or other written material. It is usually carried out in public, and is generally motivated by moral, religious, or political objections to the material, with a desire to censor it.

Banned books

Book censorship by country

See also


  1. ^ Censorship of BooksA.H. McLintock, An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand: . (2009-04-23). Retrieved on 2012-01-21.
  2. ^ American Library Association, About Banned and Challenged Books. Why are books challenged? Retrieved from [1]
  3. ^ Tracy, Robert. (1965). Literature and Obscenity. Christian Century. 82(24), 769-772 Retrieved from [2]
  4. ^ Tracy, Robert. (1965). Literature and Obscenity. Christian Century. 82(24), 769-772 Retrieved from [3]
  5. ^ University of Pennsylvania Library: Banned Books Online.
  6. ^ "Index Librorum Prohibitorum". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 
  7. ^ Schlumpf, Heidi. (2010). Does the Church still ban books? U.S. Catholic. 75(10). Retrieved from [4]
  8. ^ Lomize, Mikhail. Abridged The Kingdom of God is Within You. Retrieved from [5]
  9. ^ Martin, Michel. (Show Host). (2013, September 20). Could Banning Books Actually Encourage More Readers? [Broadcast Transcript]. National Public Radio. Retrieved from [6]
  10. ^ Martin, Michel. (Show Host). (2013, September 20). Could Banning Books Actually Encourage More Readers? [Broadcast Transcript]. National Public Radio. Retrieved from [7]

Further reading

  • Haight, Anne (1970). Banned books informal notes on some books banned for various reasons at various times and in various places. (3d ed. ed.). New York: R.R. Bowker.  
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