With Freedom to Read week well underway, people all across Canada are being reminded that, even in an entirely free country, the right to enjoy the literature of one’s choosing should never be taken for granted.
Now in its 29th year, in 2013 Freedom to Read Week runs from February 24th to March 2nd and is highlighted by events across the country. A well-designed web site holds focus for this celebration of books and reading meant to encourage “Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom, which is guaranteed them under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
Interestingly, one page on the site highlights historical banning and burnings, including Ovid’s banishment from Rome in A.D., King James I of England’s censorship of Sir Walter Raleigh’s book The History of the World for “being too saucy in censuring princes,” and, in 1859, George Eliot’s novel Adam Bede was attacked as the “vile outpourings of a lewd woman’s mind,” while in 1929, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was banned in the Soviet Union because of “occultism.”
An extensive list of contemporary challenged books and magazines is just as shocking and includes Timothy Findley’s classic The Wars; Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials; Jon Stewart’s Earth: The Book; Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and all seven books in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.
The Freedom to Read Week web site provides an extensive toolkit for those wanting to know more about the event or somehow get involved.