fashion_piranha (fashion_piranha) wrote,

Quotes: Author Responses to banned books

As usual, I'm a bit late, but since the last week of September is traditionally Banned Books Week,  here are several authors responding to news that their work has been challenged or banned.

“… it is a mad world and it will get madder if we allow the minorities, be they dwarf or giant, orangutan or dolphin, nuclear-head or water-conversationalist, pro-computerologist or Neo-Luddite, simpleton or sage, to interfere with aesthetics. The real world is the playing ground for each and every group, to make or unmake laws. But the tip of the nose of my book or stories or poems is where their rights and my territorial imperatives begin, run and rule. If Mormons do not like my plays, let them write their own. If the Irish hate my Dublin stories, let them rent typewriters. If teachers and grammar school editors find my jawbreaker sentences shatter their mushmild teeth, let them eat stale cake dunked in weak tea of their own ungodly manufacture. If the Chicano intellectuals wish to re-cut my ‘Wonderful Ice Cream Suit’ so it shapes ‘Zoot,’ may the belt unravel and the pants fall.”
-- Ray Bradbury, on Green Shadows, White Whale (Dublin stories) and The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit and Other Plays (but many of the books he wrote during his long career were challenged)

“I take the side of young people, but I am also a realist; it is especially offensive to me when an uptight adult suggests that my stories are ‘inappropriate’ for young readers. I imagine, when I write, that I am writing for young readers — not for uptight adults.”
-- John Irving, on The Hotel New Hampshire

“Surely it is plain to the simplest intelligence that To Kill a Mockingbird spells out in words of seldom more than two syllables a code of honor and conduct, Christian in its ethic, that is the heritage of all Southerners. To hear that the novel is ‘immoral’ has made me count the years between now and 1984, for I have yet to come across a better example of doublethink. I feel, however, that the problem is one of illiteracy, not Marxism. Therefore I enclose a small contribution to the Beadle Bumble Fund that I hope will be used to enroll the Hanover County School Board in any first grade of its choice.”
-- Harper Lee

"Firstly, I had obviously annoyed a lot of censorious people, and secondly, any ban would provoke interested readers to move from the library, where they couldn't get hold of my novel, to the bookshops, where they could."
-- Philip Pullman, on The Golden Compass

“This indictment is a kind of fever that flares up from time to time. It flared up after Defender of the Faith, again after Goodbye Columbus, and understandably it went way up — to about 107 — after Portnoy’s Complaint. Now there’s just a low-grade fever running, nothing to worry about. I think the generation that got hot and bothered by my work is getting a little tired of the fuss. You know… if you hang around long enough, they begin to get used to you.”
-- Philip Roth

“A very famous writer once said, ‘A book is like a mirror. If a fool looks in, you can’t expect a genius to look out.’ People tend to find in books what they want to find. And I think my books are very moral. I know they have absolutely nothing to do with what this lady is writing about [Rowling's books promoting Satanism], so I’m afraid I can’t give her much help there.”
-- J. K. Rowling, on the Harry Potter series

Stephen Colbert: “This one gets banned all over the place. And you know why.”
Maurice Sendak: “He’s got a dick.”
-- Maurice Sendak, on In the Night Kitchen

“I am greatly troubled by what you say. I wrote ‘Tom Sawyer’ & ‘Huck Finn’ for adults exclusively, & it always distressed me when I find that boys and girls have been allowed access to them. The mind that becomes soiled in youth can never again be washed clean. I know this by my own experience, & to this day I cherish an unappeased bitterness against the unfaithful guardians of my young life, who not only permitted but compelled me to read an unexpurgated Bible through before I was 15 years old. None can do that and ever draw a clean sweet breath again on this side of the grave.”
-- Mark Twain

“All these people talk so eloquently about getting back to good old-fashioned values. Well, as an old poop I can remember back to when we had those old-fashioned values, and I say let’s get back to the good old-fashioned First Amendment of the good old-fashioned Constitution of the United States — and to hell with the censors! Give me knowledge or give me death!”
-- Kurt Vonnegut, on censorship in general (Slaughterhouse-Five has been one of the most frequently challenged books in libraries since it was first published in 1969)
Tags: author pov, books
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