Banned books

A date to celebrate, a practice to deplore, a mindset still with us:

On this date in 1966, the Vatican abolished the Index of Prohibited Books… books that Roman Catholics were forbidden to read for fear of endangering their faith or their morals…

Some of the authors who found their names on the Index at one time or another include astronomers and physicists Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Giordano Bruno, and Johannes Kepler; philosophers John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Immanuel Kant, and Jean Paul Sartre; and authors Jonathan Swift, Victor Hugo, Gustave Flaubert, and Graham Greene. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was considered for inclusion, because some thought it was a veiled call for revolution, but it was ultimately left off. None of Karl Marx’s work made the list, nor did anything written by Adolph Hitler, James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, or Charles Darwin.

The list assaulted the freedom of authors and readers, the latter then an expanding category but now possibly a shrinking one. There’s less need to ban books, now that so many of us voluntarily ignore them. As Mr. Twain said, “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”

The Almanac today also makes me want to read Mona Simpson, who said “I use life when it’s better than what I could make up” and “The tincture of life most rarely found in art is happiness.”


5:30/5:31, 74/90, 8:04
podcast

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