Banned books in the list of Best 20th century novels

Continuing with the theme of Banned Books Week, we are sharing two more banned books in our library which are in the list of Best 20th century novels chosen by Modern Library.

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Animal Farm

(from Wikipedia)

Animal Farm (1945), by George Orwell is an allegorical novel that portrays corrupt political leadership.  Orwell wrote the book from November 1943–February 1944, when the wartime alliance with the Soviet Union was at its height and Stalin was held in highest esteem in Britain among the people and intelligentsia, a fact that Orwell hated. It was initially rejected by a number of British and American publishers.  Its publication was thus delayed, though it became a great commercial success when it did finally appear partly because the Cold War so quickly followed World War II.

A Wisconsin survey revealed in 1963 that the John Birch Society had challenged the novel’s use; it objected to the words “masses will revolt.” In 1968, the New York State English Council’s Committee on Defense Against Censorship conducted a comparable study in New York State English classrooms. Its findings identified the novel on its list of “problem books”; the reason cited was that “Orwell was a communist.”

Additionally, the novel was suppressed from being displayed at the 1977 Moscow, Russia International Book Fair. As recently as 2002, Animal Farm was banned (along with 26 other books) from schools in the United Arab Emirates because “they have written or illustrated material that contradicts Islamic and Arab values.”

Despite being banned by different countries, Time magazine chose the book as one of the 100 best English-language novels (1923 to 2005); it also featured at number 31 on the Modern Library List of Best 20th-Century Novels.  It won a Retrospective Hugo Award in 1996, and is also included in the Great Books of the Western World selection.


Ulysses by James Joyce



Ulysses (1918), by James Joyce, takes place on one day, June 16, 1904, and relates the thoughts, feelings, words, and actions of Leopold Bloom, his wife Molly, and Stephen Dedalus. The novel received much criticism because it explicitly describes physical and sensual pleasures, makes excretory references, and depicts sexual incidents and uses expletives.

In 1922, the U.S. Department of the Post Office burned 500 copies of the novel when an attempt was made to import the book and court decisions ruled against the book. In 1932, U.S. customs seized a copy and declared it “obscene,” resulting in a court battle. Ultimately, the judge decided Ulysses was not “pornographic.”   In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Ulysses first on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.




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