A Reading List
In April, when my wife and I were in Boulder, we attended a talk by Salman Rushdie at U. of C. (He was charming and entertaining.) It surprised me, although it shouldn’t have, that we had to go through a security check before entering the hall. It wasn’t as crazy as airport security; we didn’t have to take our shoes off or have a full body scan. But it was serious. And, more than airport security, I could understand the reason for it. Rushdie had to hide for years because his life was in imminent danger just because of a novel he wrote, and I’m sure there are plenty of religious crazies still wanting to see him dead. As most people know, the novel that got him into trouble was The Satanic Verses, which is hardly inflammatory and was a Booker Prize finalist. It isn’t unusual that great literature has been banned, although fortunately most authors of banned books don’t have to actually fear for their lives. Much of the most important and influential literature has been the target of censors, probably because it threatens the dogmatic and closed-minded. In fact, a reading list of notoriously banned books could serve as a damn good guide to liberal education. Here is one such list.