Good Reading : November 2017
GOODREADINGMAGAZINE.COM.AU GOOD READING NOVEMBER 2017 14 BOOK BITE 1 Spycatcher by Peter Wright Former MI5 intelligence officer Peter Wright attempted to publish his autobiographical work Spycatcher in 1985 but was thwarted by the British Government, which secured an injunction to prevent the book being published in Britain on grounds of a threat to national security. Naturally the controversy meant the book was a huge international bestseller. Wild Swans by Jung Chang An account of 100 years of Chinese history through the eyes of Chang’s grandmother, mother and herself, Wild Swans is one of the most successful non-fiction books of all time, selling over 10 million copies and being translated into 37 different languages. The book provides an unflinchingly honest account of life under the rule of Mao. For this reason the book and all Chang’s subsequent works have been banned from publication in China ever since. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque A Ger man novel serialised in 1928 about the horrors of trench warfare during the First World War, All Quiet on the Western Front has come to be seen as a great anti-war work, highlighting the futility of conflict. The Nazis felt the book was completely at odds with their ideology and the image they wished to present of the perfect German soldier, so the book was publicly burnt and banned from sale. Ulysses by James Joyce This modernist novel, which tells the story of a day in the life of Dubliner Leopold Bloom, was first serialised in 1918 and then published as a whole in Par is in 1922. Its challenging style, using a stream-of-consciousness narrative and covering the very smallest details of Bloom’s life (including some very intimate moments) was groundbreaking, and yet it was immediately banned in both Britain and Amer ica under obscenity laws. In 1933, an Amer ican judge ruled that the book was not pornographic and could therefore not be obscene, and so from then on Amer ica became the first English-speaking country where Ulysses was freely available. The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall Published in 1928, this tale of a love affair between two women was banned in Britain after it was feared reading it could lead to an explosion of homosexuality. A court ruled that the book was an ‘obscene libel’ and all copies were ordered to be destroyed. It was finally published in Britain in 1949 after Hall’s death, and many readers were surprised to find that the raciest scene involved two women sharing a relatively chaste kiss. The Book Lovers’ Miscellany by Claire Cock-Starkey is published by Bodleian Library, rrp $24.99. Obscenity, libel, heresy, treason – over the years censors have banned books for myriad perceived threats. The act of censorship itself can be very revealing of the changing attitudes and morals of society. In this extract from THE BOOK LOVERS’ MISCELLANY by CLAIRE COCK-STARKEY we reveal five notable books that have faced bans. YOU CAN’T READ THAT!