Spring semester, 1982. My senior year. For English class, we read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Somehow, word of this subversive event escaped our school, and a conservative activist—from another state, no less—decided to make us his primary example of youth being led into decadence.
Yes, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Somehow, apparently because of the swearing and harsh language, Solzhenitsyn’s novel of oppression and threadbare survival in the Soviet Gulag warranted banning from schools.
Our teacher smartly took a proactive approach to the problem, and invited the would-be banner (his name escapes me) to visit our classroom for a discussion of the book. He joined us, and brought along a reporter from his local paper. Over the course of a genial but illuminating debate on the merits of the book, he admitted—yes, you guessed it—that he’d never actually read it.
His crusade fell apart after that meeting, and we finished the semester—and the book. And to this day it remains on my list of all-time favorites.
Have any stories of book-banning or censorship that you’d care to share?
A six-sentence version of this story is posted at, oddly enough, Six Sentences.