by: Donnie Casto II
Throughout history, cultural values have deemed some books politically and socially dangerous. So much so that school boards, churches, libraries, and cities across the globe have banned them from being read.
“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”Famed author Ray Bradbury
It begs the question: what currently banned books in the genre of classic literature would never be published in today’s oversensitive and easily offended cancel culture? Here’s a list of the top five banned classics that wouldn’t even be published in 2021.
1. Huckleberry Finn
Hemingway once said “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called ‘Huckleberry Finn.'” It was first printed in 1885 and later published in 1876. The book was first banned in Concord, Massachusetts on the basis of racism, course language, and was also described as being trashy, inaccurate, and mindless.
Banning this classic has done a disservice to the challenges of racism. Huck by the end of the novel begins to see Jim as human and as his equal. People also miss the mastered style in which Twain highlights the ignorance of racism. Much like today’s cancel culture, many people fail to learn from the mistakes of the past and are unable to create a better future.
2. The Sun Also Rises
First published in 1926, this still banned book tells the story of the ‘Lost Generation’ through Paris until ending in Pamplona during the Running of the Bulls. The novel was burned in a mass bonfire in Nazi Germany due to it’s “Too accurate account of war.” Ironically it’s also been described as prejudiced for the criticism and insults directed towards the story’s villain Robert Cohn which was based on Howard Loeb who accompanied Hemingway and others through Paris to Spain.
The themes of Jake Barnes’s impotence in consummating his love of Lady Brett Ashley and the reoccurring themes of sex, promiscuity, and profanity have earned the ire of countless middle schools across the United States. The later chapters describing the bullfight Barnes and his group attended also would be vilified in a culture that views such a sport as cruel and inhumane towards animals.
3. The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jazz Age 1925 classic was placed on the banned block by the South Carolina Baptist College in 1987 and later by an Alaskan school board on a 5-2 vote for it’s course language and it’s sexual content. It has been equally criticized for the graphic descriptions of Prohibition age drinking and parties.
The tragic hero Jay Gatsby would undoubtedly be viewed in contempt by today’s hate the rich crowd and his murder cheered as a strike against a capitalist oppressor. Tragically, this book would never be published today. The core points Fitzgerald weaves into the novel of wealth not equalling happiness, true love, and genuine friendship making a rich life would be missed completely.
This Orwell classic along with Huxley’s Brave New World are often neck and neck in debates of which direction government and society is heading towards today. This novel has been repeatedly banned for its social/political views. It has also been flagged with complaints for its sexual content. A school board in Jackson County, Florida banned it back in 1981 for being “pro-communist.”
The irony that this banned book which in today’s ‘conspiracy theory’, ‘anti-government’, and ‘domestic terrorist’ mindset would never allow Orwell to publish it today with the insight of oppressive regimes it offers readers.
5. To Kill A Mockingbird
Harper Lee’s story of racial injustice, racism, and the loss of innocence has been a target since its publishing. The story involving a father, a prominent white lawyer defending a black man wrongly accused of raping a white woman is number seven on the American Library Association’s list of most challenged and banned books.
It’s been called ‘racist’ (although it tells of a black man wrongly accused), ‘violent’ (even though the prejudice and bigotry is palpable), and ‘offensive’ (which was Lee’s point in highlighting the stupidity of racism) by it’s most harshest critics. In today’s society where people are looking to pull the trigger for their own ‘likes’ on social media this book by Harper Lee would never find a publisher in 2021 as the publisher would undoubtedly be canceled.