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Banned, Burned, Seized, and Censored

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Recommended Reading

The exhibition Banned, Burned, Seized, and Censored reveals the rarely seen "machinery" of censorship in the United States between the two world wars. Visit the exhibition to learn more about these and many other books caught up in the complex world of American censorship.

Jurgen by James Branch Cabell

Sex Side of Life by Marie Ware Dennett

The "Genius" by Theodore Dreiser

The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall

Oil! by Upton Sinclair

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The Children's Hour by Lillian Hellman
This play opened on Broadway in 1934 and ran without incident, but it generated a firestorm of controversy when it was scheduled to open in Boston. The plot centers on a young girl who accuses two headmistresses at her boarding school of having an affair. A revival of the play opened in London in February 2011, with Keira Knightley and Elisabeth Moss in the lead roles.

Ulysses by James Joyce

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Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence
The quality and obscenity of Lawrence's work was hotly contested throughout the interwar years. Lady Chatterley's Lover was at the center of a famous Boston obscenity trial known only as the "Dunster House Bookshop Case." Prosecutors were so concerned about the book's potential for negative influence that they assiduously avoided using its title in public discussions of the case.

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It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis
Troubled by Hitler's rise to power in Germany, Lewis explored the potential for a dictator to assume control of the United States. The issues at the heart of this 1935 novel remain relevant today, and it is a compelling predecessor to Philip Roth's 2005 The Plot Against America.

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The Wild Party by Joseph Moncure March
This 1928 poem tells the story of a racy, riotous, and tragic party thrown by Queenie, a showgirl, and her lover, Burns. Art Spiegelman created a vivid illustrated edition in 1994.

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Home to Harlem by Claude McKay
Of this novel of Harlem life, W. E. B. DuBois wrote, "after the dirtier parts of its filth, I feel distinctly like taking a bath." Nevertheless, the book was a bestseller and today Home to Harlem offers readers an uncensored glimpse of two young men in Harlem in the 1920s.

Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Remarque

Strange Fruit by Lillian Smith

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor

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Native Son by Richard Wright
The Book-of-the-Month Club required edits to the original manuscript of this classic novel before approving it as a selection. They wanted to make sure that the graphic depiction of Bigger Thomas's life on the South Side of Chicago was not too shocking to its readers. The "restored text" was not available until 50 years after its original publication.

Recommended Viewing

The Children's Hour (1961)
Directed by William Wyler, starring Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine.

Forever Amber (1947)
Directed by Otto Preminger, starring Linda Darnell and Cornel Wilde.

There Will Be Blood (2007)
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, starring Daniel Day-Lewis. based on Upton Sinclair's Oil!)

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