Fun_People Archive
17 Nov
Banned Books On-line

Date: Thu, 17 Nov 94 16:41:52 PST
To: Fun_People
Subject: Banned Books On-line

[This is an ascii dump of the initial World Wide Web page of an exhibit about
censorship by John Ockerbloom.  In an introduction to it he says:

    The exhibit is based at Carnegie Mellon University, where the
    administration recently announced the university would censor numerous
    newsgroups (including text-based groups) related to sexuality, citing
    fears of legal liability as its reason.  The exhibit is particularly
    appropriate now, as a reminder of the continuing struggle for free
    expression and the increasingly important role of computer-based forms
    of expression.

    There is undoubtedly more material I can add to the page.  If you know
    of additional resources or information I can add (preferably with
    references), or you have suggestions, please write to me at

If you don't have access to WWW, but you wish to follow up on any of the
references in this page, you can do so by email.  It's very easy.  Simply send
a message to "" with a subject line of: "(URL:" and in the body
of the message include the numbers of the references.  For example:

 Subject: (URL:
 2 3 13

This message will get you information on Ulysses[2], Candide[3], and The Age of
Reason[13] by return mail.  Way cool, no?


Forwarded-by: <>
                                                           Banned Books On-line
                             BANNED BOOKS ON-LINE
   Welcome to this special exhibit of books that have been the objects of
   censorship or censorship attempts.  The books featured here, ranging from
   Ulysses to Little Red Riding Hood, have been selected from the indexes on
   the On-line Books Page[1].
   This page is a work in progress, and more works may be added to this page
   over time. Please inform of any new material that can be
   included here.
Books Suppressed or Censored by Legal Authorities

   Ulysses[2] by James Joyce was recently praised by CMU English professor and
   vice-provost Erwin Steinberg.  (Steinberg also defended Carnegie Mellon's
   declaration to delete and some 80 other newsgroups, claiming they
   were legally obligated to do so.) Ulysses was barred from the United States
   as obscene for 15 years, and was seized by U.S Postal Authorities in 1918
   and 1930. The lifting of the ban in 1933 came only after advocates fought
   for the right to publish the book. (Please don't use this on-line copy if
   you are in the US, where it is still copyrighted.)
   In 1930, U.S. Customs seized Harvard-bound copies of Candide[3], Voltaire's
   critically hailed satire, claiming obscenity. Two Harvard professors
   defended the work, and it was later admitted in a different edition. In
   1944, the US Post Office demanded the omission of Candidefrom a mailed
   Concord Books catalog.
   John Cleland's Fanny Hill[4](also known as Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure)
   has been frequently suppressed since its initial publication in 1749.  This
   story of a prostitute is known both for its frank sexual descriptions and
   its parodies of contemporary literature, such as Daniel Defoe's Moll
   Flanders. The U.S Supreme Court finally cleared it from obscenity charges in
   Aristophanes' Lysistrata[5], Chaucer's Canterbury Tales[6], Boccaccio's
   Decameron[7], and various editions of The Arabian Nights[8]were all banned
   from the U.S. mails under the  Comstock Law[9] of 1873.  Officially known as
   the Federal Anti-Obscenity Act, this law banned the mailing of "lewd",
   "indecent", "filthy", or "obscene" materials. According to Marjorie Heins,
   the law remains on the books today, though a section banning information
   about birth control has been deleted. The anti-war Lysistrata was banned
   again in 1967 in Greece, which was then controlled by a military junta.
   Leaves of Grass[10], Walt Whitman's famous collection of poetry, was
   withdrawn in Boston in 1881, after the District Attorney threatened criminal
   prosecution for the use of explicit language in some poems.  The work was
   later published in Philadelphia.
   Jean-Jacques Rousseau's autobiography Confessions[11]was banned by U.S.
   Customs in 1929 as injurious to public morality. His philosophical works
   were also banned in the USSR in 1935, and some were placed on the Catholic
   Church's Index of Prohibited Books in the 18th century.
   Thomas Paine, best known for his  writings supporting American independence,
   was indicted for treason in England in 1792 for his work The  Rights of
   Man[12], defending the French Revolution. More than one English publisher
   was also prosecuted for printing The Age of Reason[13], where Paine argues
   for Deism and against Christianity and Atheism.
   The Bible[14] and The Qu'ran[15] were both removed from numerous libraries
   and banned from import in the Soviet Union from 1926 to 1956.  Many editions
   of the Bible have also been banned and  burned by civil and religious
   authorities throughout history.
Unfit for Schools and Minors?

   An illustrated edition of "Little Red Riding Hood" was banned in two
   California school districts in 1989.  Following the original Little
   Red-Cap[16] story from Grimm's Fairy Tales[17], the book shows the heroine
   taking food and wine to her grandmother.  The school districts cited
   concerns about the  use of alcohol in the story.
   Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer[18] and Huckleberry Finn[19] were excluded from the
   juvenile sections of the Brooklyn Public library (among other libraries),
   and banned from the library in Concord, MA, home of Henry Thoreau. The File
   Room summary[20] also notes that Huckleberry Finnhas been dropped from high
   school reading lists due to its repeated use of the word "nigger",
   John T. Scopes was convicted in 1925 of teaching the evolutionary theory of
   Darwin's Origin of Species[21] in his high school class.  The Tennessee law
   prohibiting teaching evolution theory remained on the books until 1967.
   John Locke's philosophical Essay Concerning Human Understanding[22] was
   expressly forbidden to be taught at Oxford University in 1701.  The French
   Translation was also placed on the Index.
   Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice[23] was  eliminated from high school
   curricula in Buffalo and Manchester, NY, in 1931, due to its portrayal of
   the Jewish character Shylock.  Shakespeare's plays have also often been
   "cleansed" of crude words and phrases.  Thomas Bowdler's efforts in his 1818
   "Family Shakespeare" gave rise to the word "bowdlerize".
More Censorship Information

   This exhibit only represents books that are available on-line. For a more
   comprehensive review of censorship through history, see  The File Room[24]
   exhibit at the University of Illinois, particularly its literature
   Stop CMU CensorshipThis exhibit is based at Carnegie Mellon, where the
   administration recently decided to remove over 80 newsgroups on sexual
   matters, claiming that it was required to by law.  Since then, there has
   been widespread protest in the community.  The university has partly backed
   down, and delayed action on the text-based groups, but has yet to formulate
   a clear policy for protecting electronic free expression rights on campus.
   See the Censorhip at CMU[26] page for more details.
   Off-line, see Banned Books: 387 B.C. to 1978 A.D by  Anne Haight, updated by
   Chandler Grannis, for a long list of classic books that have been banned or
   challenged through history. Accounts on books challenged in U.S. schools and
   libraries in the last ten years can be found in Banned in the U.S.A. by
   Herbert Foerstel. Published in 1994, this book documents attempts to ban
   numerous books, including critically acclaimed works by Twain, Steinbeck,
   L'Engle, Blume, Dahl, and Vonnegut.

   Information for this page was gathered from  The File Room Archive[27] the
   Academic American Encyclopedia, and the two books cited above.
   The on-line books come from the CMU English Server[28], the Internet Wiretap
   collection[29], The Eris Project[30], Columbia University's Project
   Bartleby[31], Trent University's Gopher server[32],  and Robert Stockton's
   HTML literature collection[33].  Some of the works were originally provided
   by Project Gutenberg[34]. All listings are from the  on-line books page[35]
   at CMU.
                              (Last updated 14-Nov-94)

*** References from this document ***
[3] gopher://
[4] gopher://
[5] gopher://
[6] gopher://
[7] gopher://
[8] gopher://
[11] gopher://
[12] gopher://
[14] gopher://
[19] gopher://
[21] gopher://
[22] gopher://
[23] gopher://
[29] gopher://
[30] gopher://
[32] gopher://

[=] © 1994 Peter Langston []