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Posts Tagged ‘Index Librorum Prohibitorum

Just Say “Yes!”…

Prohibited prose has been a continuing theme here at (R)D:  c.f., e.g., “And the ban played on…,” “Fahrenheit 451…,” “Got you covered…,” “If we do not meet with agreeable things, we shall at least meet with something new…,” et. al.

Well it’s that time again; it’s National Banned Books Week.  What better time to dip into a taboo title?

Lord knows, the options are plentiful:  Darwin’s Origin of the Species, Thoreau’s On the Duty of Civil Obedience, Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland…  Indeed, according to the Office for Intellectual Freedom, at least 46 of the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century have been the target of ban attempts.  (See the American Library Association’s list of Challenged Classics here.)  For an even longer (and older) list, consult the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (List of Prohibited Books), the list of publications prohibited by the Catholic Church (from 1559 until the practice was halted in 1969).

Many, many of them are available via Project Gutenberg and/or as free downloads through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, et al.

Ladies and Gentlemen, to your easy chairs!

As we turn the page, we might recall that it was on this date in 1892 that Joshua Pusey patented the “flexible match”; he then sold his patent to the Diamond Match Trust (which he joined, as patent attorney)– and his design became the first mass-produced paper matchbook.

source

If we do not meet with agreeable things, we shall at least meet with something new…

Optimism is the madness of maintaining that everything is right when it’s wrong.
– Voltaire, Candide, Chapter XIX

Just over 250 years ago, a short volume by Voltaire– Candide, ou l’Optimisme— was making the underground rounds.  Within a month of its publication in January of 1759, the Grand Council of Geneva and the administrators of Paris had banned Candide; still, it sold twenty thousand to thirty thousand copies by the end of the year in over twenty editions, a clear best-seller by the standards of the time.  In 1762, Candide joined Giordano Bruno’s works on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum.  (Indeed, though its authorship was a badly-kept secret, Candide was, as can be noted above, ostensibly written by “Doctor Ralph’; Voltaire only admitted his paternity in 1768.)

Now, through April, readers can revel both in Voltaire’s sardonic indictment of optimism (and poor Gottfried Liebniz) and in the stories that surround it:  The New York Public Library is hosting “Candide at 250: Scandal and Success”– an exhibit (at the Schwartzman Building Gallery) and a wonderful on-line experience.

Then, “let us cultivate our garden.”

As we discipline our inner Pangloss, we might recall that it was on this date in 1886 that Karl Friedrich Benz patented the Benz Patent Motorwagon– the first “automobile” entirely designed to generate its own power (via a water-cooled gasoline engine)… that’s to say, not simply a motorized stage coach or horse carriage.

The Benz Patent Motorwagon

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