Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Day They Came to Arrest the Book by Nat Hentoff - September 27

So much to say about this banned book about a banned book. This novel tells the tale of  two righteous librarians at the fictitious George Mason High School where parents and students are protesting the use of Huckleberry Finn as a class assignment on grounds of racism, sexism, and homosexuality.

First published in 1982, this work definitely seems a bit dated in the 21st century. Nevertheless, as a teaching tool for free speech and censorship issues, it packs much into its 169 pages. Arguments for and against censorship in schools are offered, as well as "compromises" to outright book banning. As well, many of the reasons behind book challenges are given, some historic cases of book burning, and some titles of frequently challenged works including the ubiquitous Are You There God, It's Me Margaret by Judy Blume (see yesterday's post), and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 (which I will be blogging about later this week).

In an ironic case The Day They Came to Arrest the Book itself was challenged in 1990 in Charlottesville, Virginia "because it offers an inflammatory challenge to authoritarian roles."

I learned a new word reading this book. In reference to her former principal, librarian Karen Salters calls Mr. Moore "oleaginous" - "resembling or having the properties of oil", or, "marked by an offesively ingratiating manner or quality" according to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary 11th edition.

Many years ago, I watched a made-for-television movie based on this book. Does anyone else remember the CBS School Break Special? http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0139963/

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