Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Banned book week
I always thought that the first banned book that I read was Burger's Daughter by Nadine Gordimer. Then again I grew up in Apartheid South Africa where banned books were a bit of a thing. Ironically "To kill a mockingbird" by Harper Lee was one of my school set-work books. The fact that this book has been banned places n the United States I find quite amazing. So much for the American free speech.
Of course under those circumstances I automatically and without much reflection am against banning. To be honest though I realise that I had to give it more thought for other circumstances.
Of course personally I practice self-censorship when it comes to books. I remember being shocked when I saw Mein kampf by Adolf Hitler on sale in Geneva, Switzerland. I was of the view that it should not be available for sale! I was tempted to buy it and burn it! But perhaps advice that someone twittered around the Koran-burning threat on 911 by a church in the US is worth further consideration: reading the book should be a prerequisite if you intend to burn it. I do not intend to ever read Mein kampf. If I start a book I don't like - whatever the reaon - I stop. I give the book away.
When it comes to children I would hope that the parents are aware of what their kids are reading and talk to them about it. That is how I would've handled my children reading Harry Potter (something many christian parents would not let their children read).
Which leaves me wondering whether I am against banning books. As I am currently becoming more aware of violence against women and children and other such things, I don't want to say entirely and unconditionally so. But far too many books have been banned which I do not agree with! As with so many things, it's all about where one draws the line. At some point or another far too many fabulous books have been banned and that is definitely a problem.
I consider Burger's daughter by Nadine Gordimer, and I write what I like by Steve Biko to be probably THE two defining books of my life. They were both banned and that was without a doubt a shame!
source for covers: fantasticfiction.co.uk and Open library