I have no interest in reading a banned book merely because it was banned. These books tend to have been published decades or generations ago, and the issues which led to their banning have most often long lost relevance. In most cases banned books seem very tame today, even dull. ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ was banned in several countries for obscenity. Those looking to ‘Lady Chatterley’ for something salacious will be disappointed. There is more sexual adventure in the ‘Angelique’ series then in Lawrence’s book.

Clifford Chatterley, confined to a wheelchair, symbolizes Lawrence’s view of a (to-him) over-intellectualized British upper class of the 1920s. Debating whether or not he was correct is a very narrow field of interest to a very small group of we moderns. It is a subject that should have been discussed at the time the novel was written, instead of banning it.

Banning is not really about a book’s contents, not directly. Banning is about societal control. It is about reinforcing the present structures and norms of the society involved. ‘Doctor Zhivago’ by Boris Pasternak, was banned in the Soviet Union for criticizing life in Russia after the revolution; ‘By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept, by Elizabeth Smart (the Canadian author), was banned in Canada for thirty years because of her powerful families’ objection to the depiction of the author’s affair with a married man; ‘Elmer Gantry’, by Sinclair Lewis, was banned in the U.S. for offending Christianity; ‘Feast For the Seaweeds’, by Haidar Haidar, was banned in several Arab states for offending Islam; ‘Big River, Big Sea-Untold Stories of 1949’, by Lung Ying-tai, was banned in China for its depiction of misdeeds committed by the Chinese Red Army during the revolution.

Societies, civilizations, are organic. Those with power and an interest in keeping a society from changing further attempt to artificially halt the natural growth and change of a culture by using the system of laws, punishments and rewards, and regulation, at their disposal, including banning certain books. So it isn’t about aesthetics or morality, it is about power and control. These efforts always fail eventually of course. In the case of ‘Lady Chatterley’, the book was released from the banned lists in 1960.


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