You cannot satisfy every person in the world. What may be acceptable to one school of thought may not be palatable to another. Literature has its own share of controversies. It can be due to religious beliefs, political views or maybe due to airing of views which are not considered acceptable to a larger section of society. Here is a compilation of 10 of the most controversial books of all time, though not necessarily in the same order in which it is reproduced here.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Brave New World is an extremely popular novel written by Aldous Huxley and first published in 1932. It heavily depicts the use of drugs and focuses on blatant sexuality as it leads the reader into a version of the future dominated by science and technology. This book has been challenged an umpteen number of times and there have been calls for its banning (with some success over the years) the world over, as many people felt that it overemphasized the negative factors of life. A Maryland teacher was even fired for assigning it to his students.
Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) by George Orwell
Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) was written by George Orwell and first published in 1949 while he was on his death bed. It features highly politicized theme involving topics such as totalitarianism, torture, invasion of privacy, mind control as well as religion, sex and much more. It foresees a future where the world would be in the state as described in the book. It has had an air of controversy ever since it was published, and frighteningly enough, its themes are still relevant today.
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
The Chocolate War was a contemporary young adult novel for its time. Written Robert Cormier, the book includes a lot of swear words and graphic depictions of sex and violence. In fact, one scene painted a very vivid and grotesque picture of masturbation. Though published in 1974, the book is still banned in many libraries as well as schools.
The Catcher in the Rye has been among the best seller list immediately upon its release in 1951. Though it is claimed to be one of best novels by the author, it has its due share of controversies for the portrayal of sexuality and excessive violence. Teenagers still love this book and its central character Holden Caulfield has become an icon for defiance and rebellion.
The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
The Harry Potter series of books has been the inspiration for a series of films of the same name. The series was written by J.K. Rowling and it is targeted primarily towards children. Religious groups all over the world has criticized the series because of its themes of magic, witchcraft and the occult, and made claims that such subject matter had the capacity to negatively influence children. On a lesser note, the series has also been criticized for distorting geographical, historical and architectural facts.
The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
A name like that is just asking for controversy. The Anarchist Cookbook was first published in 1971 and has since then ruffled many political feathers by its protest of U.S involvement in the Vietnam War. It also contains instructions on how to make and assemble explosives, telecommunications phreaking devices, and a slew of other items that the Government wouldn’t want you to have your hands on.
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
American Psycho was first published in 1991, and it is a satirical novel that highlights the farcical nature of the lifestyle of young urban professionals in America. It heavily depicts graphical violence and sexual torture is explicit, which is its main cause of controversy. It was adapted into a movie released in 2000 which has its own share of vulgarity.
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
The Da Vinci Code was originally published in 2003, and it became famous for challenging the religious fervor of Catholics by dispelling popular notions about Christianity, such as divinity of Christ, his private life and his possible heritage. By questioning the status quo, Dan Brown incurred the furious wrath of Christians, in particular the Catholic sect. If its one group of people you don’t want up in arms, its Catholics. It was later adapted into a movie in 2006, which was just as controversial as the book.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
This is the first of five autobiographical novels by the late and former civil rights activist Maya Angelou. It was first published in 1969 and it gives an account of Angelou’s traumatic youth. The book speaks heavily of the racism she and her grandmother in the town of Stamps, Arkansas and other areas within the southern United States. It also speaks of the sexual violence perpetrated against her, and she depicts the events in graphic detail. However, despite its controversy, its author and the year it was written in, it was still nominated for the National Book Award in 1970.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Lolita was first published in 1955, and in a nutshell, it focuses on forbidden sexuality. In a much harder to swallow shell, it dwells on the explicit sexual adventures of a middle aged professor and his 12 year old step daughter. Yes, very disturbing stuff. The book, originally written in English and translated into Russian has been banned in many countries but it is extremely popular in the United States. Go figure.