It’s Banned Book Week! This week, we celebrate all the books that society fears/feared.
I‘ve read a bunch of books on the list (naughty, naughty!), and though I am quite fond of the Harry Potter series, probably my favorite banned book is Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.
I first read the dystopian masterpiece in high school. It was required reading in my AP Literature class and we read it on the heels of 1984. The book opens with some shocking imagery (innocent children playing sexual games) that sets the tone for the entire piece. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read the book since then, but every time I do, I discover new insight on the world in which we live.
So why is it a banned book? Well according to the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression:
In Baxley, Georgia, the school board banned Brave New World – along with John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men and Richard Wright’s Native Son based on a local church minister’s objection to the texts, despite parents’ and teachers’ approval of the book.
Now, I can definitely understand how certain passages would be offensive, but I believe that they were written to offend. How else can we have a cautionary tale but to show the offensiveness of society? I sincerely doubt that Huxley, a humanist, set out to specifically offend the religious establishment with his novel. Rather, he shows us what life would be like in a world where progress and self-pleasure are the only gods. Had the minister who objected to the content of the novel understood this, he might have found that he and Huxley shared more common ground than not.
Want to know something else about Aldous Huxley? He died on the same day as C.S. Lewis and John F. Kennedy. Crazy but true.
What is your favorite banned book?
For more information about what Banned Books Weeks is all about, check out this link.