Rare Book Monthly

Articles - August - 2022 Issue

Hey Book Dealers, you’ll have one more list to check


The State of Pennsylvania is second and probably will eventually be No. 1 in what are book bannings at the school district level unless Iowa, Florida and Idaho’s irate parents beat them to it.  It turns out the religious right is insisting on telling you what your children can read. It’s called censorship.


The Central Bucks School District in Pennsylvania recently passed a new book-removal policy by a 6-3 vote Tuesday evening.  This policy allows just one adult – be it parent, guardian, or community member, whoever – to challenge a book simply “on the basis of appropriateness” and have it eventually entirely removed from district libraries.  What could go wrong with that?


Given that standing is broadly offered, and because most library holdings are publicly accessible, who is to say this new openness to censorship won’t lead to challenges to the Bible whose blood-soaked prose may offend some.


Or, for the politically minded, the constitution in its earliest iteration that counted slaves as six tenths of a white man.


Or , for the openly racist, can they object to all books mentioning Blacks and the sons of the Dominican Republic, who dominate major league baseball today.    


For reference for the literate, the Roman Catholic Church organized a list of banned books, the Index Librorum Prohibitorum in 1559.  Science, philosophy and fiction were targeted and in time included:


Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas

On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres by Nicolaus Copernicus

The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert


The Index Librorum Prohibitorum was abolished in 1966.


People have long objected to some content but the idea that a single individual’s objection can clear a school’s shelves sounds eerily close to the appointment of a or the Fuhrer.


In the dark these two words sound similar:  democracy or dumbocracy.


Irrespective of your political views, be voting during the primaries and general elections.  If you don’t defend your rights, expect to lose them.

Posted On: 2022-08-01 02:51
User Name: markholmen

Can you believe that six Dr. Seuss's books are being banned and will no longer be published? He was my favorite author growing up. This is outrageous and ignorant. Have we returned to the dark ages?

Posted On: 2022-08-02 22:58
User Name: Bkwoman

As a tree-hugging, Liberal, Democrat, and a 35-year veteran bookseller and editor, I am truly appalled when fine literature and wonderful children's books ride on someone's stupid, bigoted, narrow-mined ban list. The people who are doing this kind of thing are the ones who all intelligent, open-minded, unbigoted people should be voting out of office like we did in 2020. Disgusting that any state would let one person make a decision for all - isn't that called a Dictatorship?

Posted On: 2022-08-13 00:33
User Name: markholmen

All 6 of the Dr.Seuss books are now banned from listing on eBay.
These are children's books for gods sake... by one of the world's nicest people.
Every book on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum is for sale.

Posted On: 2022-08-28 16:28
User Name: briteness

"It turns out the religious right is insisting on telling you what your children can read. It’s called censorship." No. It is not called censorship. It is called having standards. Do school libraries feature porn magazines on their shelves? No. Is that censorship? No. The notion that the community can have no input on the contents of school libraries is just foolish. Also, the process is not, as you imply, dependent on just one person. Pointing out a book as problematic does not lead to the automatic removal of that book.

However, your most laughable error is suggesting that the religious right is in fact the primary source of danger. The left in our day is far more committed to silencing their enemies, not just by removing their writings from libraries, but by making them utterly unavailable, with severe consequences for those who dare defy them. To suggest otherwise is to be willfully blind to the world in which we live.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b><center>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Focus On Women:<br>At Auction June 1, 2023</b>
    <b>Swann June 1:</b> Sojourner Truth, <i>Narrative of Sojourner Truth, a Northern Slave,</i> first edition, Boston, 1850. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann June 1:</b> Jane Austen, <i>Pride and Prejudice,</i> London, 1817. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Swann June 1:</b> Cindy Sherman, <i>Secretary,</i> gelatin silver print, 1978; printed 1993. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Swann June 1:</b> Fanny Stevenson, Archive of Photographs & Letters, 1866-1904. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann June 1:</b> Charlotte Perkins Gilman, <i>The Forerunner,</i> Volumes I-VII; Family Association Set; Four Volumes Signed or Inscribed by the Author, New York, 1909-16. $3,000 to $5,000.
  • <b><center>Sotheby's<br>The Joanne Woodward & Paul Newman Collection<br>26 May - 12 June</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 26 – Jun. 12:</b> "Cool Hand Luke" | Paul Newman Academy Award® Nomination Plaque. USD$2500 - $3500
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 26 – Jun. 12:</b> "Hud" | Bound presentation script incorporating photographic stills. USD$1000 - $1500
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 26 – Jun. 12:</b> "The Long, Hot Summer" | Movie Poster. USD$1000 - $1500
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 26 – Jun. 12:</b> Joseph Heller | "Catch-22," inscribed to Woodward & Newman by author. USD$500 - $800
    <b><center>Sotheby's<br>The Joanne Woodward & Paul Newman Collection<br>26 May - 12 June</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 26 – Jun. 12:</b> George H. W. Bush | Typed Letter Signed, Issuing a "Pardon" to Paul Newman. USD$1500 - $2000
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 26 – Jun. 12:</b> William Jefferson Clinton | Inscribed Color Photograph. USD$1000 - $1500
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 26 – Jun. 12:</b> Ken Kesey | Typed letter to “Paulnewman,” asking for further compensation for "Sometimes a Great Notion". USD$1000 - $1500
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 26 – Jun. 12:</b> "They Might Be Giants" | Costume sketches by Edith Head. USD$1000 - $2000

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions