Censorship Leaves Us in the Dark : Keep the Light On!

The title of this post is the logo for the 2019 National Banned Books Week that runs during this week in September (9/22-28).  ALA Banned Books

For the past several years, during this week, the libraries have posted highlights of titles that have been banned or challenged over the years including classics like “To Kill a Mockingbird”, a title whose place in libraries continues to be challenged.

This year we are shining the light on the “Index Librorum Prohibitorum.” Started in the 1500s and suppressed in 1996, the index was a list of books prohibited by the Roman Catholic church as dangerous to the faith or morals of Roman Catholics. Specific reasons why books were censored are kept confidential by the church. The Central Libraries Special Collections houses one of these indexes from 1892.

Index Librorum Prohibitorum 1892

One well-known author to make the list is Victor Hugo. ‘Notre-Dame de Paris’ (or the Hunchback of Notre-Dame) was put on the list shortly after its publication in 1831. Some sources suggest the censorship was not necessarily for views against the church or monarchy, but for content that was sensual, libidinous or lascivious. These must be the bits Disney cut out.

page from Index 1892

‘Notre-Dame de Paris’ is an interesting title to revisit today, as the book’s success influenced a resurgence of interest in restoring the cathedral following the French Revolution. Hugo went on to be a highly successful author whose works portrayed his own beliefs as an opponent of the death penalty, slavery, and censorship.

Baylor Libraries has several copies of Hugo’s works, this would be the perfect week to reacquaint yourself with his stories and shine his light forward!

1931 sketch from Notre-Dame de Paris

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