What the censors saw
A collection of previously banned books is on display at the National Archives of Australia to give visitors a glimpse into the minds of mid-20th century censors.
remains a mystery
Popular and pulp fiction with lurid covers and titles such as Road Floozie, Hotel Wife and Crimes of Passion feature as part of the display Banned, which aimed to shed light on how much Australian society has changed in the past 60 years.
Included on the banned list were those now considered to be “literary classics”, written by authors such as Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, D.H. Lawrence and Honoré de Balzac.
They were deemed as unsuitable for Australian minds from the 1930s to the 1970s and often seized by Customs because they were considered blasphemous, indecent or obscene.
Curator at the National Archives, Tracey Clarke said it remained a mystery why some bans were imposed.
“For example Down and Out in Paris and London, by George Orwell, was banned before the Literature Censorship Board came into existence,” Ms Clarke said.
“When it came to the notice of the board in 1953 they were puzzled as to the reason and lifted the ban immediately.”
She said The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger was banned by the Minister for Customs in 1957, without being referred to the Literature Censorship Board.
“It caused national embarrassment when a copy was found in the Parliamentary Library and it was discovered that the United States ambassador had presented copies of the book to foreign countries as an example of his country’s fine literature,” she said.
Ms Clarke said it was only after that embarrassment that the censorship system underwent a big overhaul, with the banned list being reviewed and, for the first time, made public.
Banned will be on show throughout this year.
Edition 346, 29 January 2013