Thursday, March 1, 2012

Banned Books

A selection of paintings from “We Exercise The Power” is currently on display in Rathmines Library. The exhibition has been travelling around various libraries countrywide since last August.

It’s an unusual project, “100 watercolour paintings of 100 books by 100 author's who have at one time or another been banned in Ireland throughout the last century.” John Jones is the artist, and you can read about and see the paintings at

We know Ireland has seen some enthusiastic censors in its time, particularly where books offended Catholic sensibilities, but still the list makes surprising reading and includes Gulliver’s Travels, Molloy by Samuel Beckett, Of Mice and Men, The Catcher in the Rye, John Updike’s Rabbit,Run and many others. That’s a taster, have a look yourself.

This prompted me to look a bit wider. A list of books that have been (at some time) banned internationally includes pearls such as, Candide by Voltaire (USA), Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (South Africa), Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (Soviet Union), Peyton Place by Grace Metalious (Canada), Ulysses by James Joyce (UK, USA, Austrailia), The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank (Lebanon), The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (USA).

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