Fahrenheit 451 is a
soft science fiction
Ray Bradbury and first published in 1953.
presents a future American society in which the masses are
critical thought through reading is outlawed. The central
Guy Montag, is employed as a "fireman" (which, in this future,
burner"). The number "451" refers to the temperature (in
Fahrenheit) at which a book or paper
autoignites. Written in the early years of the
Cold War, the novel is a critique of what Bradbury saw as an
increasingly dysfunctional American society.
The concept began with Bradbury's short story "Bright
Phoenix," written in 1947 but first published in the
Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1963.
The original short story was reworked into the
novella, The Fireman, and published in the February
1951 issue of
Galaxy Science Fiction. The novel was also serialized in
the March, April, and May 1954 issues of
Bradbury wrote the entire novel on pay typewriter in the basement
UCLA's Powell library. His original intention in writing
Fahrenheit 451 was to show his great love for books and
libraries. He has often referred to Montag as an
allusion to himself.
Over the years, the novel has been subject to various
interpretations, primarily focusing on the historical role of book
burning in suppressing
dissenting ideas. Bradbury has stated that the novel is not
censorship; he states that Fahrenheit 451 is a story
about how television destroys interest in reading literature,
which leads to a perception of knowledge as being composed of
"factoids", partial information devoid of context, e.g.
Napoleon's birth date alone, without an indication of who he
A movie version of the novel was released in 1966, and it is
anticipated that a second version will begin filming in 2008. At
BBC Radio 4 dramatizations have also been aired, both of which
follow the book very closely.
Fahrenheit 451 takes place in an unspecified future time
America that has completely abandoned self-control, filled
with lawlessness in the streets, from teenagers crashing cars into
people to firemen at Montag's station who set their mechanical
hound to hunt various animals for the simple and grotesque
pleasure of watching them die. Anyone caught reading books is, at
the minimum, confined to a mental hospital while the books are
burned. Illegal books mainly include famous works of literature,
Walt Whitman and
William Faulkner, as well as The Bible, and all historical
One night returning from his job, fireman Guy
Montag meets his new neighbor
Clarisse McClellan, whose free-thinking ideals and liberating
spirit force him to question his life, his ideals, and his own
perceived happiness. Later in the book Clarisse is killed in a car
After meeting Clarisse, he returns home to find his wife
Mildred (who sleeps in a separate bed) asleep, with an empty
bottle of sleeping pills next to her bed. He calls for medical
help, and two technicians respond, who proceed to suck out
Mildred's blood with a machine and insert new blood into her. The
technicians' utter disregard for Mildred forces Montag to question
the state of society.
In the following days, while ransacking the book-filled
house of an old woman before the inevitable burning, Montag
accidentally reads a line in one of her books: "Time has fallen
asleep in the afternoon sunshine." This prompts him to steal one
of the books. The woman refuses to leave her house and her books,
choosing instead to light a match she had concealed from the
firemen's view, prematurely igniting the kerosene and
martyring herself. This disturbs Montag, and he wonders why
someone would die for mere books.
Jarred by the woman's suicide, Montag calls in sick, and
receives a visit from his fire chief Captain Beatty, who explains
to him the political and social causes which underlie the work
they perform. Captain Beatty claims that society, in its search
for happiness, and an attempt to minimize cultural offenses
through political correctness, brought about the suppression of
literature as an act of self-censorship and that the government
merely took advantage of the situation. Beatty adds that all
firemen eventually steal a book out of curiosity, but all would be
well if the book is turned in within 24 hours. Montag argues with
his wife, Mildred, over the book, showing his growing disgust for
her and for his society.
It is revealed that Montag has, over the course of a year,
hidden dozens of books in the ventilation shafts of his own house,
and he tries to memorize them to preserve their contents, but
becomes frustrated that the words seem to simply fall away from
his memory. He then remembers a man he had met at one time: Faber,
a former English professor. Montag seeks Faber's help, and Faber
begins teaching Montag about the vagaries and ambiguities but
overall importance of literature in its attempt to explain human
existence. He also gives Montag a green bullet-shaped ear-piece so
that Faber can offer guidance throughout his daily activities.
During a card game at the fire house, Beatty tells Montag he
had a dream about him, and relates the literary argument he says
they had in his dream. Beatty quotes many books and shows an
amazing knowledge of literature to prove to Montag the confusing
messages in books. Then follows another call to arms; Beatty
theatrically leads the crew to Montag's own home. He reveals that
he knew all along of Montag's books, and orders Montag to destroy
the house. Montag sees Mildred, who had betrayed his secret,
moving away from the house and sets to work burning their home,
but Montag is not content destroying the books. He burns the
televisions, beds and other emblems of his past life. When Beatty
finds Faber's earpiece, he threatens to track Faber down. Montag
turns the flamethrower on Beatty, killing him, and then knocks out
two other firemen and is soon a fugitive for these crimes. When
the fire house's mechanical hound goes after him, he turns the
flamethrower on it, destroying it.
He flees to Faber's house, with another fire house's
mechanical hound and television network helicopters in hot
pursuit. The newscasters hope to document his escape as a
spectacle, and distract the people from the oncoming threat of
war, a threat that has been foreshadowed throughout the book.
Faber tells Montag of vagabond book-lovers in the countryside.
Montag escapes, to a local river, floats downstream and meets a
group of older men who, to Montag's astonishment, have memorized
entire books, preserving them orally until books are allowed
again. They burn the books they read to prevent discovery,
retaining the verbatim content (and possibly valid
interpretations) in their minds. The group leader, Granger,
discusses the legendary phoenix and its endless cycle of long
life, death in flames, and rebirth, adding the phoenix must have
some relation of mankind, constantly going back to its cycle of
making mistakes, and not learning from the past. He comments that
man can learn, as opposed to the doomed phoenix.
Meanwhile, the television network helicopters surround
another man in frustration, and the hound is ordered to attack
him. The television audience thinks that Montag has died, but he
is actually safe.
The war begins. Montag watches helplessly as jet bombers fly
overhead and attack the city with nuclear weapons. His wife,
Mildred, likely dies, though Faber is assumed to have left the
city. It is implied that more cities across the country have been
incinerated as well, a bitter irony that the world that sought to
burn thought, is burned itself. At the moment of the explosion,
the stress and emotion of seeing the city burned causes a key
phrase from the Bible to emerge from the depths of Montag's
The novel is concluded with a shocking but slightly
optimistic tone. It is suggested that the society Montag knew has
almost completely collapsed and a new society must be built from
the ashes. Whether this new society will meet the same fate is
unknown, but it is implied that the book people will begin to
build mirror factories (a literary allusion)(mirrors are a
metaphor for books) to show people who they are, what they have
become, and how they can change with time and knowledge.
Guy Montag is the
protagonist and fireman (see above) whose metamorphosis is
illustrated throughout the book and who presents the dystopia
through the eyes of a loyal worker to it, a man in conflict
about it, and one resolved to be free of it. Bradbury notes in
his afterword that he noticed, after the book was published,
that Montag is the name of a paper company. Ironically, in the
years after the book was published a company called Montag
(pronounced the same way as the character's name) began
manufacturing ovens, although no link to the book is known.
Faber is a former English professor who represents those who
know what is being done is wrong but are too fearful to act.
Bradbury notes in his afterword that Faber is part of the name
of a German manufacturer of
Mildred Montag is Montag's wife, who tries to hide her own
emptiness and fear of questioning her surroundings or herself
with meaningless chatter and a constant barrage of television.
She constantly tries to reach the glorified state of
happiness, but is inwardly miserable. Mildred even makes an
attempt at suicide early on in the book by overdosing herself
with sleeping pills. She is used symbolically as the opposite of
Clarisse McClellan. She is known as Linda Montag in the 1966
Clarisse McClellan displays every trait Mildred does not.
She is outgoing, naturally cheerful, unorthodox and intuitive.
She serves as the wake-up call for Montag by posing the question
“why?” to him. She is unpopular among peers and disliked by
teachers for (as Captain Beatty puts it) asking why
instead of how and focusing on nature rather than
technology. Montag always regards her as odd until she goes
missing; the book gives no definitive explanation. It is said
that Captain Beatty and Mildred know that Clarisse has been
killed by a car. Her behavior is similar to that of Leonard Mead
from Bradbury's short story
The Pedestrian. Her uncle, who presumably taught her to
think as she does, may be an allusion to that short story, as he
was once arrested for being a pedestrian.
Captain Beatty is Montag's boss and the fire chief. Once an
avid reader, he came to hate books due to life's tragedies. He
is disgusted with the idea of books and detests the fact that
they all contradict and refute each other. In a scene written
years later by Bradbury for the Fahrenheit 451 play, he
invites Montag to his house where he shows him walls of books
which he leaves to molder on their shelves. He tries to entice
Montag back into the book-burning business but is burned to
death by Montag when he underestimates Montag's resolve. Montag
later realizes that Beatty might have wanted to die, provoking
Montag to kill him. He is the symbolic opposite of Granger.
- Granger is the leader of a group of wandering
intellectual exiles who memorize books so they will be saved.
Where Beatty destroys, he preserves; where Beatty uses fire for
the purpose of burning, he uses it for the purpose of warming.
His acceptance of Montag is considered the final step in
Montag's metamorphosis: from embracing Beatty's ultimate value,
happiness and complacency, to embracing his value of love of
- Mechanical Hound The mechanical hound exists in the
original book but not in the 1966 film. It is an emotionless,
8-legged killing machine that can be programmed to seek out and
destroy free thinkers, hunting them down by scent. It can
remember as many as 10,000 scents of others it is tracking down.
The hound is blind to anything but the destruction for which it
is programmed. It has a proboscis in a sheath on its snout,
which injects lethal amounts of
procaine. Although Montag was able to survive such an
injection, he suffered horrible pain for a short time. The first
hound encountered in the novel is destroyed when Montag sets it
on fire with a flamethrower. The second was programmed to find
and kill a scapegoat for the amusement of the viewers of the
televised chase for Montag, which in truth was unfruitful.
Bradbury notes in his afterword that the hound is "my robot
A. Conan Doyle's great Baskerville beast," referring to the
Sherlock Holmes mystery
The Hound of the Baskervilles.
- Mildred's friends (Mrs. Bowles and Mrs. Phelps) Mildred's
friends represent the average citizens in the numbed society
portrayed in the novel. They are examples of the people in the
society who are unhappy but do not think they are. When they are
introduced to literature (Dover
Beach), which symbolizes the pain and joy that has been
censored from them, Mrs. Phelps is overwhelmed by the rush of
emotion that she has not felt before..
The novel reflects several major concerns of the time of its
writing, leading many to interpret it differently than intended by
Bradbury (see "Censorship
and the effects of mass media" below). Among the themes
attributed to the novel were what Bradbury has called "the
thought-destroying force" of censorship, the book-burnings in
Nazi Germany in 1933 and the horrible consequences of the
explosion of a
nuclear weapon. "I meant all kinds of
tyrannies anywhere in the world at any time, right, left, or
middle", Bradbury has said.
Other motifs attributed to the novel are:
One particularly ironic circumstance is that, unbeknownst to
Bradbury, his publisher released a censored edition in
1967, omitting the words "damn" and "hell," for distribution to
schools. Later editions with all words restored include a coda
from the author describing this event and further thoughts on
censorship and "well-meaning" revisionism.
Censorship and the effects of mass
The novel is frequently interpreted as being critical of
state-sponsored censorship, but Bradbury has disputed this
interpretation. He said in a 2007 interview that the book explored
the effects of television and mass media on the reading of
Bradbury still has a lot to say, especially about how
people do not understand his most famous literary work,
Fahrenheit 451, published in 1953. ... Bradbury, a man
living in the creative and industrial center of reality TV and
one-hour dramas, says it is, in fact, a story about how
television destroys interest in reading literature.
Yet in the paperback edition released in 1979, Bradbury
wrote a new coda for the book containing multiple comments on
censorship and its relation to the novel. The coda is also present
in the 1987 mass market paperback, which is still in print.
There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is
full of people running about with lit matches. Every minority,
be it Baptist / Unitarian, Irish / Italian / Octogenarian /
Zen Buddhist, Zionist / Seventh-day Adventist, Women's Lib /
Republican, Mattachine / FourSquareGospel feel it has the
will, the right, the duty to douse the kerosene, light the
fuse….Fire-Captain Beatty, in my novel Fahrenheit 451,
described how the books were burned first by the minorities,
each ripping a page or a paragraph from this book, then that,
until the day came when the books were empty and the minds
shut and the library closed forever. ... Only six weeks ago, I
discovered that, over the years, some cubby-hole editors at
Ballantine Books, fearful of contaminating the young, had, bit
by bit, censored some 75 separate sections from the novel.
Students, reading the novel which, after all, deals with the
censorship and book-burning in the future, wrote to tell me of
this exquisite irony.
Judy-Lynn del Rey, one of the new Ballantine editors, is
having the entire book reset and republished this summer with
all the damns and hells back in place.
In the late '50s, Bradbury observed that the novel touches
on the alienation of people by media:
In writing the short novel Fahrenheit 451 I thought
I was describing a world that might evolve in four or five
decades. But only a few weeks ago, in Beverly Hills one night,
a husband and wife passed me, walking their dog. I stood
staring after them, absolutely stunned. The woman held in one
hand a small cigarette-package-sized radio, its antenna
quivering. From this sprang tiny copper wires which ended in a
dainty cone plugged into her right ear. There she was,
oblivious to man and dog, listening to far winds and whispers
and soap-opera cries, sleep-walking, helped up and down curbs
by a husband who might just as well not have been there. This
was not fiction.
Fahrenheit 451 was a film written and directed by
François Truffaut and starring
Oskar Werner and
Julie Christie. The film was released in 1966.
In July 1994, a new film adaptation of Fahrenheit 451
began development with the studio
Warner Bros. and actor
Mel Gibson, who planned to star in the lead role. Scripts were
written by Bradbury, Tony Puryear, and
With the project estimated to be expensive and Gibson believing
himself too old to portray the film's protagonist
the actor decided in 1997 to instead direct the film. By 1999, he
had planned to begin filming with actor
Brad Pitt in the lead role, but Gibson was forced to postpone
due to Pitt's unavailability.
Tom Cruise was also approached for the lead role, but a deal
was never made.
According to Gibson, there was difficulty in finding a script that
would be appropriate for the film, and that with the advent of
computers, the concept of book-burning in a futuristic period may
no longer work.
In February 2001, the project was revived as director
Frank Darabont entered negotiations with Warner Bros. to
rewrite Terry Hayes's script and direct the film.
Gibson was confirmed to be involved only as a producer, and
Darabont planned to complete the script by the end of 2002.
In July 2004, Darabont said that he had completed the script and
hoped to begin filming Fahrenheit 451 after completing a
Mission: Impossible III.
Darabont did not begin Fahrenheit 451 immediately, instead
going on to direct
The Mist. The director said in November 2006 that he would
do long-term preparation work for Fahrenheit 451 while
filming The Mist and hoped that he would begin filming
after The Mist was completed.
In August 2007, Darabont expressed his intent to film
Fahrenheit 451 in the summer of 2008, and that he would place
the story's setting in an "intentionally nebulous" future,
approximately 50 years from the contemporary period. Darabont
planned to keep certain elements from the book, such as the
mechanical hound, in the film. The director did not comment on
Tom Hanks as Guy Montag. The director said that the
protagonist had been cast and would be announced soon.
The following November, the director confirmed Hanks's involvement
with the film and described the actor to be "the perfect
embodiment of the regular guy".
In March 2008, Hanks withdrew from the film, citing prior
commitments as the reason. Darabont is now looking for a new lead,
explaining the difficulty, "It needs to be somebody like [Hanks]
who has the ability to trigger a greenlight but is also the right
guy for the part. It's a narrow target. It's a short list of
Obie Award winning
The American Place Theatre is presenting a
one man show adaptation of Fahrenheit 451 as a part of
their 2008-2009 Literature to Life season
Allusions and references in other
50th Anniversary Edition cover
The title of Bradbury's book has become a well-known byword
amongst those who oppose
censorship, in much the way
Brave New World have (although not to the same extent). As
such, it has been alluded to many times, including in the
ACLU's 1997 white paper Fahrenheit 451.2: Is Cyberspace
Michael Moore's 2004 documentary
Fahrenheit 9/11. Bradbury objected to the latter's
allusion to his work, claiming that Moore "stole my title and
changed the numbers without ever asking me for permission."
Micah Wright used the theme "Hand all books to your local
fireman for safe disposal" overlaid on a 1940s fireman propaganda
György Faludy includes the lines in the opening stanza of his
1983 poem "Learn by Heart This Poem of Mine": "Learn by heart this
poem of mine, / Books only last a little time, / And this one will
be borrowed, scarred, [...] / Or slowly brown and self-combust, /
When climbing Fahrenheit has got / To 451, for that's how hot / it
will be when your town burns down. / Learn by heart this poem of
The rat things, cybernetic guard dogs in
Neal Stephenson's cyberpunk novel
Snow Crash, are closely related to Bradbury's mechanical
The theme and plot of the movie
Christian Bale and
Sean Bean, draws heavily from Fahrenheit 451, as well
as from 1984 and Brave New World.
Ray Bradbury also alludes to himself in his book
Let's All Kill Constance as the main character, a writer,
thinks about writing a book about a "hero who smells of kerosene"
and muses about the possibility of books being used to start fires
in the future.
The character of Sonmi~451 in
David Mitchell's dystopia
Cloud Atlas is likely to be a reference to Fahrenheit 451.
The main theme evolving around her is the importance of literature
as a cornerstone of human culture and society.
A 1986 computer
text adventure revisits the story of Fahrenheit 451.
real-time strategy game
StarCraft includes a flamethrower-wielding character named
Gui Montag, after the protagonist of the book.
R.O.D the TV's episode 16, all the books from jimbo-cho are
gathered and burned in an event entitled operation Fahrenheit 451
In the sixth episode of the 2008 Japanese
Toshokan Sensō (図書館戦争,
lit. "Library War"), a book referred to as "The Book of
Prophecy" simply titled K505 was targeted for termination.
This title alludes to Fahrenheit 451, as K505 can be read
as 505 units of the
Kelvin measurement of temperature that approximates 451
Fahrenheit. Characters in the series' fictional, near-future
setting also reference the book as being written "60 years ago"
and how "a French director adapted it into a film."
Dozens of other references to the novel occur in television,
music, and video games.
"The Fireman" (Galaxy
Science Fiction, Vol. 1 No. 5, February 1951)
First edition (1953)
– This edition was actually published in three formats, and
included two short stories: "The Playground" and "And the Rock
No. 41) – The true first edition, preceding the hardcovers by
hardcover – Limited to about 4,500 copies.
Asbestos hardcover – Just over 200 copies were signed and
numbered, before being bound in "Johns-Manville Quinterra", a
fire resistant asbestos material.
- Serialized version (Playboy,
March, April, & May 1954)
- First British hardcover edition (Rupert
Hart-Davis, 1954) – Title novel only.
- Science Fiction Book Club (London,
1955) – Title novel only.
- First British paperback edition (Corgi
No. T389, 1957) – Title novel only.
- Student edition (Bal-Hi,
1967) – Includes a two page "Note to Teachers and Parents" by
Richard Tyre. Reprinted ten times through 1973.
- Hardcover edition (Simon
& Schuster, 1967) – Full contents of the first edition
(novel and two short stories) with a new introduction by
- Special Book Club edition (1976)
- Hardcover edition (Del
Rey Gold Seal, 1981) – Issued without a dust jacket, and
includes "Investing Dimes", an afterword by Bradbury.
- Hardcover edition (Limited
Editions Club, 1982) – Issued in a slipcase without a dust
jacket, and includes an original lithograph and threefold-out
color plates by
Joseph Mugnaini. 2000 copies were signed by Bradbury &
- Large print cloth edition (G
K Hall & Co., 1988,
- Hardcover edition (Buccaneer
ISBN 089968484X) – Issued without a dust jacket, and
includes the "Investing Dimes" afterword, and a "Coda" by
- 40th anniversary cloth edition (Simon
& Schuster, 1996) – Limited to 7500 copies, with 500 signed
and numbered by Bradbury.
Trade paper edition (Del
- Mass-market paperback edition (Del Rey,
- In Canada
- First Edition - February 1963
- Seventh Printing - October 1972
the Book: Fahrenheit 451". The Big Read.
National Endowment for the Arts.
451: Publishing Information". RayBradburyOnline.com (October
About Freedom, raybradbury.com, Date unknown
Boyle Johnston, Amy E.
"Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451 Misinterpreted", LA
Bradbury, Ray (2004). Conversations with Ray Bradbury.
Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 19.
LAWeekly.com (2007), “Ray
Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451 Misinterpreted”, retrieved
Kingsley Amis in New Maps of Hell: A Survey of Science
Timothy M. Gray (2001-01-10).
from the crypt",
Variety. Retrieved on
Michael Fleming (2001-02-01).
stokes flames for '451'",
Variety. Retrieved on
- ^ "Darabont
Warms Up Fahrenheit",
Sci Fi Wire (2002-04-29).
Brian Linder (2004-07-29).
Devin Faraci (2006-11-07).
THE MIST FOR ME... DOUBLETIME", CHUD.com.
Shawn Adler (2007-08-08).
451' Director Insists Book Is 'More Relevant Today,' Hopes To
Shoot Adaptation In 2008",
Shawn Adler (2007-11-09).
Hanks Wants To Star In 'Fahrenheit 451,' Director Says",
Josh Horowitz (2008-03-28).
Tom Hanks Drops Out Of 'Fahrenheit 451'",
Ann Beeson. Chris Hansen. Others, see "Credits" section on
451.2: Is Cyberspace Burning? ", ACLU.com, 2002-03-17.
SFGate.com (2004), “Author
seeks apology from Michael Moore”, retrieved
Gyorgy (George) Faludy. John Robert Colombo, ed. Learn by
Heart This Poem of Mine: Sixty Poems and One Speech,
Hounslow Press, 1983,
Online version hosted by opendemocracy.net
Tuck, Donald H. (1974). The Encyclopedia of Science
Fiction and Fantasy. Chicago:
- Bustard, Ned (2004), Fahrenheit 451 Comprehension
Guide, Veritas Press.
- Bradbury, Ray Fahrenheit 451, New York: Ballantine
Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
BANNED BOOKS BOTTOM LINE:
This is the list of the books that SARAH PALIN tried to have banned when
she was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska
. As many of you will notice it is a hit parade for book burners!
EDITORS NOTE: I RECOMMEND YOU GO OUT AND BUY A COPY OF
ALL THESE BOOKS BEFORE THE GOVERNMENT FORCES YOU TO STOP READING AND
LEARNING FOR YOURSELF!
"A Clockwork Orange" by Anthony Burgess
"A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle
"Annie on My Mind" by Nancy Garden
"As I Lay Dying" by William Faulkner
"Blubber" by Judy Blume
"Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley
"Bridge to Terabithia" by Katherine Paterson
"Canterbury Tales" by Chaucer
"Carrie" by Stephen King
"Catch-22" by Joseph Heller
"Christine" by Stephen King
"Confessions" by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
"Cujo" by Stephen King
"Curses, Hexes, and Spells" by Daniel Cohen
"Daddy's Roommate" by Michael Willhoite
"Day No Pigs Would Die" by Robert Peck
"Death of a Salesman" by Arthur Miller
"Decameron" by Boccaccio
"East of Eden" by John Steinbeck
"Fallen Angels" by Walter Myers
"Fanny Hill (Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure)" by John Cleland
"Flowers For Algernon" by Daniel Keyes
"Forever" by Judy Blume
"Grendel" by John Champlin Gardner
"Halloween" ABC by Eve Merriam
"HARRY POTTER and the Sorcerer's Stone" by J.K. Rowling
"HARRY POTTER and the Chamber of Secrets" by J.K. Rowling
"HARRY POTTER and the Prizoner of Azkaban" by J.K. Rowling
"HARRY POTTER and the Goblet of Fire" by J.K. Rowling
"Have to Go" by Robert Munsch
"Heather Has Two Mommies" by Leslea Newman
"How to Eat Fried Worms" by Thomas Rockwell
"Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain
"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou
"Impressions" edited by Jack Booth
"In the Night Kitchen" by Maurice Sendak
"It's OK if You Don't Love Me" by Norma Klein
"James and the Giant Peach" by Roald Dahl
"Lady Chatterley's Lover" by D.H. Lawrence
"Leaves of Grass" by Walt Whitman
"Little Red Riding Hood" by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
"Lord of the Flies" by William Golding
"Love is One of the Choices" by Norma Klein
"Lysistrata" by Aristophanes
"More Scary Stories in the Dark" by Alvin Schwartz
"My Brother Sam Is Dead" by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher
"My House" by Nikki Giovanni
"My Friend Flicka" by Mary O'Hara
"Night Chills" by Dean Koontz
"Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck
"On My Honor" by Marion Dane Bauer
"One Day in The Life of Ivan Denisovich" by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
"One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" by Ken Kesey
"One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
"Ordinary People" by Judith Guest
"Our Bodies, Ourselves" by Boston Women's Health Collective
"Prince of Tides" by Pat Conroy
"Revolting Rhymes" by Roald Dahl
"Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones" by Alvin Schwartz
"Scary Stories in the Dark" by Alvin Schwartz
"Separate Peace" by John Knowles
"Silas Marner" by George Eliot
"Slaughterhouse-Five" by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
"Tarzan of the Apes" by Edgar Rice Burroughs
"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain
"The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" by Mark Twain
"The Bastard" by John Jakes
"The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger
"The Chocolate War" by Robert Cormier
"The Color Purple" by Alice Walker
"The Devil's Alternative" by Frederick Forsyth
"The Figure in the Shadows" by John Bellairs
"The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck
"The Great Gilly Hopkins" by Katherine Paterson
"The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood
"The Headless Cupid" by Zilpha Snyder
"The Learning Tree" by Gordon Parks
"The Living Bible" by William C. Bower
"The Merchant of Venice" by William Shakespeare
"The New Teenage Body Book" by Kathy McCoy and Charles Wibbelsman
"The Pigman" by Paul Zindel
"The Seduction of Peter S." by Lawrence Sanders
"The Shining" by Stephen King
"The Witches" by Roald Dahl
"The Witches of Worm" by Zilpha Snyder
"Then Again, Maybe I Won't" by Judy Blume
"To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee
"Twelfth Night" by William Shakespeare
"WEBSTER's 9th New Collegiate Dictionary" by the Merriam-Webster
"Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of the Halloween
Symbols" by Edna Barth
Here is a Boston Herald story about the Palin censorship request.
Palin asked Wasilla librarian about censoring books
By Rindi White / Anchorage Daily News | Thursday, September 4, 2008 |
http://www.bostonherald.com | 2008
Pres. Campaign WASILLA -- Back in 1996, when she first became mayor, Sarah
Palin asked the city librarian if she would be all right with censoring
library books should she be asked to do so.
According to news coverage at the time, the librarian said she would
definitely not be all right with it. A few months later, the librarian,
Mary Ellen Emmons, got a letter from Palin telling her she was going to be
fired. The censorship issue was not mentioned as a reason for the firing.
The letter just said the new mayor felt Emmons didn’t fully support her
and had to go.
Emmons had been city librarian for seven years and was well liked. After a
wave of public support for her, Palin relented and let Emmons keep her
It all happened 12 years ago and the controversy long ago disappeared into
musty files. Until this week. Under intense national scrutiny, the issue
has returned to dog her. It has been mentioned in news stories in Time
Magazine and The New York Times [NYT] and is spreading like a virus
through the blogosphere.
The stories are all suggestive, but facts are hard to come by. Did Palin
actually ban books at the Wasilla Public Library?
In December 1996, Emmons told her hometown newspaper, the Frontiersman,
that Palin three times asked her -- starting before she was sworn in --
about possibly removing objectionable books from the library if the need
Emmons told the Frontiersman she flatly refused to consider any kind of
censorship. Emmons, now Mary Ellen Baker, is on vacation from her current
job in Fairbanks and did not return e-mail or telephone messages left for
When the matter came up for the second time in October 1996, during a City
Council meeting, Anne Kilkenny, a Wasilla housewife who often attends
council meetings, was there.
Like many Alaskans, Kilkenny calls the governor by her first name.
"Sarah said to Mary Ellen, ’What would your response be if I asked you to
remove some books from the collection?" Kilkenny said.
"I was shocked. Mary Ellen sat up straight and said something along the
line of, ’The books in the Wasilla Library collection were selected on the
basis of national selection criteria for libraries of this size, and I
would absolutely resist all efforts to ban books.’"
Palin didn’t mention specific books at that meeting, Kilkenny said.
Palin herself, questioned at the time, called her inquiries rhetorical and
simply part of a policy discussion with a department head "about
understanding and following administration agendas," according to the
Were any books censored banned? June Pinell-Stephens, chairwoman of the
Alaska Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee since 1984,
checked her files Wednesday and came up empty-handed.
Pinell-Stephens also had no record of any phone conversations with Emmons
about the issue back then. Emmons was president of the Alaska Library
Association at the time. Books may not have been pulled from library
shelves, but there were other repercussions for Emmons.
Four days before the exchange at the City Council, Emmons got a letter
from Palin asking for her resignation. Similar letters went to police
chief Irl Stambaugh, public works director Jack Felton and finance
director Duane Dvorak. John Cooper, a fifth director, resigned after Palin
eliminated his job overseeing the city museum.
Palin told the Daily News back then the letters were just a test of
loyalty as she took on the mayor’s job, which she’d won from three-term
mayor John Stein in a hard-fought election. Stein had hired many of the
department heads. Both Emmons and Stambaugh had publicly supported him
Emmons survived the loyalty test and a second one a few months later. She
resigned in August 1999, two months before Palin was voted in for a second
Palin might have become a household name in the last week, but Kilkenny,
who is not a Palin fan, is on her own small path to Internet fame. She
sent out an e-mail earlier this week to friends and family answering, from
her perspective, the question Outsiders are asking any Alaskan they know:
"Who is this Sarah Palin?"
Kilkenny’s e-mail got bounced through cyberspace and ended up on news
blogs. Now the small-town mom and housewife is scheduling interviews with
national news media and got her name on the front page of The New York
Times, even if it was misspelled.
Find Daily News reporter Rindi White online at www.adn.com/contact/rwhite
or call 352-6709.
To see more of the Anchorage Daily News, or to subscribe to the newspaper,
go to http://www.adn.com.
Copyright © 2008, Anchorage Daily News, Alaska
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
Balzac, Honore de
Burroughs, Edgar Rice
Cabell, James Branch
De Sade, Marquis
Dos Passos, John
Ernst, Morris L.
Farrell, James T.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang
Livingston, Myra Cohn
Luise, Reuban L.
Marks, John D.
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia
|Morse, Ann Christensen
Remarque, Erich Maria
Shaw, George Bernard
Snepp, Frank W., III
Von Mises, Ludwig
OTHER BANNED BOOKS
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)
by Mark Twain
The word "nigger," which appears many times in the novel, was the
cause for the removal of this classic from an eighth-grade reading list.
In the 1950s, the NAACP objected to the book's perceived racist tone. In
1984, the book was removed from a public high school reading list in
Waukegan, Illinois, because a black alderman found the book's language
American Heritage Dictionary (1969)
In 1978, an Eldon, Missouri library banned the dictionary because it
contained 39 "objectionable" words. And, in 1987, the Anchorage School
Board banned the dictionary for similar reasons, i.e., having slang
definitions for words such as "bed," "knocker," and "balls."
by MacKinlay Kantor
Awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1956, this story of a Confederate
prison camp during the Civil War, was viciously attacked throughout the
U.S. It was banned in Amarillo, TX.
Annie on My Mind
The Olathe, Kansas school system ordered all copies of this book
removed from high school library shelves. It is a story of two women who
meet and fall in love and struggle with declaring their homosexuality to
family and friends.
As I Lay Dying (1932)
by William Faulkner
In 1986, Graves County, Kentucky, the school board banned this book
about a poor white family in the midst of crisis, from its high school
English reading list because of 7 passages which made reference to God or
abortion and used curse words such as "bastard," "goddam," and "son of a
bitch." None of the board members had actually read the book.
Atkol Video Catalog
WIRED magazine (Feb. 1996) reported that AOL censored Atkol Video's
catalog from its virtual shopping mall for carrying gay titles. AOL gave
no censoring criteria when it "cut some titles and retained others."
Banned From Public Radio: Humor, Commentary and
Smart Remarks Your Government DOESN'T Want You To Hear (1991)
by Michael Graham
The title of this first book is literally true: he was banned from
the South Carolina Educational Radio Network courtesy of those geniuses in
our General Assembly for commentary which poked fun at their 1991 Ethics
Act. Graham also has the distinction of being the only person officially
fired from his job as communications director for SC Secretary of State
Jim Miles by an act of those same courageous geniuses.
The Book Your Church Doesn't Want You To Read
by Tim C. Leedom, Editor
The book traces astrological and mythical origins of modern day
western religions. A Barnes & Noble bookstore in San Diego refused to
stock this book because of its content.
Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago (1971)
by Mike Royko
A Ridgefield, CT school board in 1972 banned this book from the high
school reading list, claiming it "dowgrades police departments."
by Joseph Heller
This book was banned and/or challenged more than once. It was banned
in Srongsville, Ohio in 1972 and that decision was overturned in 1976. It
was also challenged in Dallas, Texas (1974) and again in Snoqualmie,
Catcher in the Rye (1951)
by J. D. Salinger
This is a perennial favorite of censors and has been banned in the
U.S. and Australia. In 1960, a Tulsa, OK teacher was fired for putting the
book on the 11th grade reading list. The teacher was reinstated, but the
book was permanently removed from teaching programs. A Minnesota high
school administration was attacked for allowing the book in the school
The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence (1974)
by Victor Marchetti and John D. Marks
The CIA obtained a court injunction against this book's publication
stating the author, a former CIA employee, violated his contract which
states that he cannot write about the CIA without the agency's approval.
First amendment activists opposed this ruling, "raising the question of
whether a citizen can sign away his First Amendment rights." After
prolonged litigation, the CIA succeeded in having 168 passages deleted.
The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty
by Anne Rice (under the pseudonym, A.N. Roquelaure, written in the
April 28, 1996, the Columbus, Ohio Dispatch reported that
following a complaint from a patron in the Columbus Metropolitan Library
removed the trilogy of Rice's Sleeping Beauty books and their audio tapes
after determining the books were pornographic. These same books were also
removed from the Lake Lanier Regional Library system in Gwinnett County,
Georgia, in 1992.
by Michael Willhoite
A favorite of censors, this children's book about gay parenting was
the subject of a challenge in the public library. In an all-too-familiar
request, a parent complained about references to homosexuality in material
for children. The library board voted to uphold basic library principles
by retaining the book on its appropriate shelf in the children's section.
Deadly Deceits (My 25 Years in the CIA) (1983)
by Ralph McGheehee
The CIA delayed the publication of this book for three years,
objecting to 397 passages, even though much of what the author wrote about
was already public knowledge.
by Giovanni Boccacio (1313-1375)
In Cincinnati, an "expurgated" version of Boccacio's Decamerone
is confiscated in 1922. In 1926, there is an import ban of the book by the
Treasury Department. In 1927, U.S. Customs removes parts of text from the
"Ashendene edition" and ships the mutilated copy back to me British
publisher in London. In 1932, import ban lifted in Minnesota. In 1934, the
New England Watch and Ward Society still bans the book. In 1954, it is
still on the black lis tof the "National Organization of Decent
Dictionary of American Slang
by T.Y. Crowell, publisher
Max Rafferty, California superintendent of public instruction in
1963, and his supporters found over 150 "dirty" passages in the book.
Don't Call Me Brother
by Austin Miles
In 1992, former Christian fundamentalist minister, Austin Miles, was
sued; charges were that his book, Don't Call Me Brother, was "...a
vitriolic attack upon organized Christianity." The $4 million lawsuit
filed in Los Angeles Superior Court also screamed "libel" and "slander."
After a lengthy and costly process, the court ruled that the book was not
1-The Drowning of Stephan Jones
by Bette Greene
2-The Education of Harriet Hatfield
by May Sarton
by E. M. Forster
All three of these books, which treat homosexuality in various ways,
were removed from a regional high school. The novels' purchase was
financed by a grant that teacher Penny Culliton received and was approved
by the school superintendent and principal. However, shortly after a local
newspaper reported that Culliton was involved with a lesbian and gay
support group for young people, the books were found unsuitable and were
banned. Maurice and The Education of Harriet Hatfield were seized from the
students while they were reading the novels in class. Personal attacks on
the teacher and demands for her dismissal have been so vehement that her
job is now in jeopardy.
by Ray Bradbury
This book is about censorship and those who ban books for fear of
creating too much individualism and independent thought. In late 1998,
this book was removed from the required reading list of the West Marion
High School in Foxworth, Mississippi. A parent complained of the use of
the words "God damn" in the book. Subsequently, the superintendent
instructed the the teacher to remove the book from the required reading
by Meredith Tax
A young children's book that creatively describes different family
structures, was finally removed by the Fairfax County school board.
Meredith Tax's beloved book had been under attack for a long time, during
which many individuals and organizations rose to its defense. What's more,
Families was praised by the board's own review committees.
Flowers in the Attic
by V.C. Andrews
The county's board of education decided to remove all school
curriculum materials and library books containing any and all "profanity"
and "pornography," both concepts ill-defined. The tremendous public outcry
made the board backtrack and resolve to review its selection policy.
However, after this conciliatory decision, and while the review process
still inches along, most of the books in Andrews's popular series Flowers
in the Attic were removed from the high-school library for "pornographic"
by Judy Blume
Forever censored, this wildly popular teen novel was attacked once
again for its frank treatment of adolescent sexuality and was removed from
an eighth-grade optional reading list. In Rib Lake, Wisconsin, a school
district principal had the book removed from the library after
confiscating a copy from a student in the lunchroom, finding "graphic
descriptions of sex acts."
Freedom and Order
by Henry Steele Commager
The U.S. Information Agency had this book banned from its overseas
libraries because of its condemnation of American policies in Vietnam.
From Here to Eternity
by James Jones
This book was censored in 1951in Holyoke, Springfield, Massachusetts
and in 1953 in Jersey City, New Jersey; blacklisted by National
Organization of Decent Literature in 1954.
The Glass Teat (1970)
by Harlan Ellison
The Glass Teat is a collection of essays which appeared as
columns in the Los Angeles Free Press and Rolling Stone
during the 1960s. They were critical essay on the subject of television
broadcasting; and essays critical of the president and vice-president. The
publisher, Ace Pub. Corp. consequently recalled his book and had it
removed from bookstores. Years later it was later re-released.
Grapes of Wrath (1939)
by John Steinbeck
Several months after the book's publication, a St. Louis, MO library
ordered 3 copies to be burned for the vulgar words used by its characters.
It was also banned in Kansas City and in Oklahoma.
by Allen Ginsberg
Officials of the Cold War era saw only willful destruction of
American values in a poet's grief over suffocating 1950s convention.
The Joy of Sex (1972), More Joy of Sex (1975)
by Alex Comfort
Lexington police in 1978 confiscated these sex instruction books in
accordance with a new county ordinance prohibiting the display of
sexually-oriented publications in places frequented by minors.
The Last Mission (1979)
by Harry Mazer
Against the recommendation of school librarians, teachers, and
administrators, the board of the Carroll Middle School removed this novel
from the library for its scattered "bad words." The novel, which was named
1979's New York Times Best Book of the Year, is based on the author's
experiences in the Air Force during World War II. Mazer said, "It's like a
slap in the face of veterans. The book speaks about the sacrifices of the
soldiers who fought in that war." Local residents and parents petitioned
and protested as well. In a final decision, the board voted 6-1 to return
The Last of the Wine
by Mary Renault
Fifth-century B.C. Athens is the setting of the historical novel
that was challenged in a high school for references to homosexuality. Not
only did the complainants and their supporters revile the book, which
enlivened an honors history class, but they also attempted to humiliate
the teacher by calling him a "sexual predator" and accusing him of trying
to "recruit" children to homosexuality. The school board supported the
teacher and the novel.
Literature in Society
In an improbable complaint about this textbook, two eminent
African-American authors were the main targets of censorship. An excerpt
from Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man was deemed offensive for its use of the
word "nigger," and the sexual slang in Nikki Giovanni's poetry was found
unacceptable. School officials also found intolerable a reference to
homosexuality elsewhere in the book and seized the ever-so-dangerous texts
(that include Wordsworth and other immoralists) while 12th-grade students
were reading them.
by Vladimir Nabokov
Although it was published in Paris, it was soon (1956) to be banned
there for being obscene. An Argentinian court banned the book in 1959 and
again in 1962 ruling that the book "reflected moral disintegration and
reviled humanity." In 1960, the New Zealand Supreme Court also banned the
book. It was later freely published in France, England, and the U.S.
Lord of the Flies
by William Golding
The Toronto School Board banned this classic from all its schools,
claiming it was racist for use of the word "niggers." Even Golding's Nobel
Prize in literature did not protect this author's book.
U.S. import ban on Lysistrata was lifted in 1930.This Greek tragedy
was written somewhere around 400 B.C.
Nothing New on the Western Front
by Erich Maria Remarque
Banned in Chicago and Boston, in Austria, and Czechoslovakia in
1929; in Germany in 1930; and in Italy in 1933. There was a public burning
in Germany in 1933.
Pentagon Papers (1971)
Commissioned by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, this 3,000 page
history of U.S. involvement in Indochina, was banned from publication by
court order. The NY Times was printing portions of it when the order came
down. Later that year, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the decision and
Bantam proceeded to publish a paperback edition.
Portnoy's Complaint (1969)
by Philip Roth
Several libraries and librarians throughout the U.S. were harassed
and threatened for carrying this book on their shelves.
Search for Truth in History
by David Irving
This video tape has already been banned in three countries.
by Salman Rushdie
The Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran put a price on the head of this
author for writing this book which allegedly is critical of the Islam
religion. Rushdie, as a result, went into hiding for an indefinite period
of time, fearing for his life.
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble
by William Steig
In 1977, the Illinois Police Association urged librarians to remove
the book, which portrays its characters as animals, and presents the
police as pigs. The American Library Association reported similar
complaints in 11 other states.
The Valachi Papers (1968)
by Peter Maas
Asked by the Justice Dept. to edit the papers of Mafia leader Joseph
Valachi, Maas was later sued by the Justice Dept. for trying to publish
the memoirs. The reason they said was that the book would hamper law
enforcement. The suit was settled and Putname published the book in 1968.
Things Your Father Never Taught You
by Robert Masullo
Production of this lighthearted look at male grooming was delayed by
a born-again Christian art director who objected to a description of
Japanese furniture arranging as "occultist."
Waco: The Davidian Massacre
by Carol Moore
This controversial book challenges the government's version of
events at Waco. A public library refused to carry the book stating the
reason was that the book was privately published.
Who Built America?
Apple Computer has distributed Who Built America?, an acclaimed history
series created for CD-ROM, as part of a free software package for schools
buying its computers. When it received protests about material relating to
the history of birth control, abortion, and homosexuality, Apple asked
Voyager to delete the offending material. Voyager refused, and Apple
suspended distribution. Following many protest letters, Apple reversed its
decision and resumed distribution.
Worlds In Collison
by Immanuel Velikovsky
In the 1950s, the scientific community tried to ban this
controversial version of the origins of our solar system because it didn't
comport with the "official" version of events. The publisher, MacMillan,
was forced to give up publication of the book even though it was on the
New York Bestsellers list at the time. If your are interested in this
Velikovsky's Worlds In Collision and The Saturn Myth, see David Talbot's
video documentary, Remembering the End of the World.
Women on Top
by Nancy Friday
Would-be censors got their way in their demands to remove this book
from the Chestatee Public Library in Gainesville ( Hall County ), Georgia.
Before a final vote was taken by the library board on the fate of Women on
Top, the book was borrowed and "accidentally" destroyed. The board voted
not to replace it.
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