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Published on October 1st, 2012 | by Key Reads


Banned Books Week and American Culture

By Alexandra Rosen


Why was The Catcher in the Rye a banned book in America? Probably because it is a book narrated by a sex-obsessed, vulgar-speaking, drinking teen. In other words, it is a fantastic book, which people did not understand. Banning books is not only something that should be considered going against our constitutional right to free speech, but it stops cultural growth. Paying homage to Banned Books Week, I would like to point out how we should be reading some of these controversial books, at least to gain someone else’s perspective; although you can also learn a lot about a culture by the books it has banned.



American culture is obviously stunted by remnants of Victorian morality. I assume it permeated American society easily because of the country’s puritanical roots. Those puritans we revere and celebrate on thanksgiving were prudish and you could say they were kicked out of Europe because they were too stringent for others in the old countries. Therefore, when misguided Victorian principles made their way over the Atlantic, they were easily fashionable and Americans would have latched onto them fast and hard. Like a baby on its mother’s nipple. “Victorian prudery sometimes went so far as to deem it improper to say “leg” in mixed company; instead, the preferred euphemism “limb” was used” ( You can only imagine a list of banned books would be an easy idea to hold onto. Of course, banning books only makes a similar culture to Prohibition occur. People always seem to want what they are not “supposed” to have and many people want to read what they are not supposed to read.



So if you want to get a glimpse at why The Catcher in the Rye was banned for so many years in American Culture, just pick it up. It is a wonderfully offbeat read. And in honor of Banned Books Week, check the current banned books list to see if a book you like is on it.



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