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Complexion of Artistic Expression.

For decades, Salman Rushdie’s novel; ‘The Satanic Verses’ which was published in 1988, had aroused controversy in the Islamic world moving the community to rebel against the author by arousing conflict, leading protests and even sending death threats towards the author. So, what sparked such a backlash? It’s just a novel, right?

Well, the Islamic community reacted to the apparent blasphemous nature of Rushdie’s novel which employs the use of magical realism with contemporary events from the early years of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). The novel follows the storyline of how the Qur’an was revealed at first by the angel Jibreel (Gabriel in the novel). However, the controversy sprung from Rushdie imposing a false personality and characteristic upon such valued and respectable beings from the Islamic world. This immediately caught the attention of millions of Muslims around the world, even capturing the eyes of politicians, so much so that the Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989, ordered the killing of Rushdie for creating such a blasphemous text. In Rushdie’s defence, literary critics have argued that the text analyses the boundaries between fact and fiction. Rushdie himself argued that books, texts, religion, communities, beliefs and ideas can all be questioned if it means people are understanding the idea and theory better by building tolerance.

Throughout time, artists and authors have brought about new ideas worth exploring, which increases the contentious nature of some of these novels. Even as recent as 2003, Dan Brown’s ‘The Da Vinci Code’ had earned disapproval by Christians and Catholic leaders for its blasphemous material leading to the book being banned in countries such as India and Lebanon. Moving on to 2005, Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell’s ‘And Tango Makes Three’ had been one of the most challenged/banned books for seven years. The book makes many assumptions about homosexuality generating controversial questions about what makes a family. In more recent years, E.L. James’s ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ was seen as ‘poorly written’ and ‘semi-pornographic’ , thus, leading it to become banned in 17 libraries in Florida in 2012.

Looking into some of these texts, should it be allowed for literary texts or even other artistic forms to create controversy by disrespecting a belief, in order to question, challenge, debate and understand this belief better globally?

  • Actually, an effective comment. The other case study could be: (Jesus Christ Superstar which is a 1970 rock opera with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice). The writer who takes this topic can incorporate both events (novelistic and operatic) into the final analysis. As for the title, try: "Complexion of Artistic Expression." For what it's worth. – L:Freire 5 years ago

A History of Banned Books

A discussion of popular or well-known novels that have been under fire or criticism due to their content. Perhaps even discuss why that book was banned and whether those books should remain banned or not.

  • Really good topic. There are loads of books to discuss. Have a look at Baudelaire's Flowers of Evil. – Rachel Elfassy Bitoun 9 years ago
  • Since this topic is broad, it would be best to either approach it with different sub categories of reasons why they were banned or just focus on one aspect. For example, I know 'The Fault in our Stars' was banned from a middle school, and John Green had a response to that. So this could be books banned from schools, or something else. Just a suggestion! – YsabelGo 9 years ago
  • There are lots of articles out there already on banned books -- maybe focus this one on current or recent books. I don't know that the internet needs another examination of why Huckleberry Finn was banned. – Monique 9 years ago
  • One especially to consider is Alison Bechdel's graphic novel Fun Home that was given to college freshmen (at Duke I believe?), which many students declined to read, and even protested, because its of graphic depictions of lesbian sex. It's a complicated issue, considering there are even more liberal people who agreed that freshmen shouldn't be forced to read something of that nature. I, on the other hand, totally support the school's decision to use the book. That's just a more recent example in case you're looking for one! :) – southdakoda 9 years ago
  • I've noticed that a lot of banned books are young adult novels. For example, Harry Potter, Thirteen Reasons Why, Perks of Being a Wallflower, Looking for Alaska, and so many more. I find it interesting that they make these books banned when each one has very important lesson and young people could benefit from reading them. – diehlsam 9 years ago