Banned Book Club: Reading List of Censored But Evocative Works Of Literature - Arts & Culture

You can keep books from readers, but you can’t keep readers from the books.

The Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) has ordered to ban “subversive” books that it considered “anti-government.” Through its controversial August 9 memorandum, the commission halted the printing and distribution of five books.

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The list includes Teatro Politikal Dos by Malou Jacob, Kalatas: Mga Kuwentong Bayan at Kuwentong Buhay by Rommel B. Rodriguez, Tawid-diwa sa Panangisag ni Bienvenido Lumbera: Ang Bayan, ang Manunulat, at ang Magasing Sagisag sa Imahinatibong Yugto ng Batas Militar 1975-1979 by Dexter B. Cayanes,  May Hadlang ang Umaga by Don Pagusara, and Labas: Mga Palabas sa Labas ng Sentro by Reuel M. Aguila.

Filipino social media users have since criticized the ban as both an act of censorship and red-tagging. These include former KWF commissioner Jerry Gracio, who said we cannot let this issue pass.

Others recalled that national hero Jose Rizal himself wrote a “banned subversive book” in the form of Noli Me Tángere. Schools nationwide even use the said book as required reading.

Regardless of one’s stance on this local issue of public interest, nobody can deny the impact of banned books worldwide. Here are a few literary works banned at some point in time due to their subject matter.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Synopsis: “[T]ells of a girl named Alice falling through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures.”

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Synopsis: “[T]ells the story of the aging Humbert Humbert’s obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze.”

Naked Lunch by William Burroughs

Synopsis: “An unnerving tale of a narcotics addict unmoored in New York, Tangiers, and, ultimately, a nightmarish wasteland known as Interzone.”

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

Synopsis: “Winston Smith, a member of the outer Party, spends his days rewriting history to fit the narrative that his government wants citizens to believe. But as the gap between the propaganda he writes and the reality he lives proves too much for Winston to swallow, he begins to seek some form of escape.”

The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie

Synopsis: “Just before dawn one winter’s morning, a hijacked jetliner explodes above the English Channel. Through the falling debris, two figures, Gibreel Farishta, the biggest star in India, and Saladin Chamcha, an expatriate returning from his first visit to Bombay in fifteen years, plummet from the sky, washing up on the snow-covered sands of an English beach, and proceed through a series of metamorphoses, dreams, and revelations.”

Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller

Synopsis: “Set in Paris in the 1930s, it features a starving American writer who lives a bohemian life among prostitutes, pimps, and artists.”

Ulysses by James Joyce

Synopsis: “Set entirely on one day, June 16, 1904. Ulysses follows Leopold Bloom and Stephen Daedalus as they go about their daily business in Dublin.”

Banner Photo by Brendan Stephens on Unsplash.

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