Poll reveals changed attitudes to banned books

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A poll conducted on Facebook shows that there has been a major shift in attitudes to what is acceptable in print. 

Books that were considered controversial several decades ago hardly raise an eyebrow in the 21st century. A novel described in 1960 as 'the foulest in English literature' – 'Lady Chatterley's lover' – is now seen as 'progressive'. 

The poll, devised by the National Library of Scotland, asked Facebook friends to vote on two opposing descriptions of six books. 

More than 1,150 votes were cast, producing the following results: 

  • 'Lady Chatterley's lover' by D H Lawrence (1928):
    Progressive? 84%
    Vulgar? 16%
  • 'The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana' (English translation, 1883):
    Instructional? 80%
    Pornographic? 20%
  • 'American Psycho' by Brett Easton Ellis (1991):
    Challenging? 58%
    Disturbing? 42%
  • 'Mein Kampf' by Adolf Hitler (1925):
    Political? 54%
    Racist? 46%
  • 'Lord of the flies' by William Golding (1954):
    Philosophical? 84%
    Barbaric? 16%
  • 'The catcher in the rye' by J D Salinger (1951):
    Enlightening? 86%
    Detrimental? 14% 

Each of these titles is on display in the 'Banned books' exhibition at NLS, which tells the story of censorship of the printed word.

Read more in our banned books poll press release.

29 September 2011



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