Monday, February 06, 2017

The banning of Conan Doyle and Hammett.

Dashiell Hammett.
Yank 30 Nov. 1945
The Department of Special Collections of the Kenneth Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas has posted online the catalog (with images) of its 1955 exhibition on banned books, which received ALA's Letter Library Award in 1956.

The exhibition includes, under Russia, works by Arthur Conan Doyle, "because they dealt with occultism and spiritualism."

The U.S. section reveals that Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon (1930) was removed from State Department libraries abroad in June 1953—part of efforts to drop or destroy works characterized by the department as written by communists. (In 1951, Hammett went to prison in Kentucky for contempt of court; he had refused to reveal the names of those who posted bail for four communists.) The NEA Big Read Web page on The Maltese Falcon states that Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R–WI) was responsible for this move, but Hammett's books were restored by a fan: President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Another interesting entry: a biography of Lawrence of Arabia by Richard Aldington, suppressed by friends of T. E. Lawrence because Aldington made controversial assertions such that Lawrence was untruthful about his experiences and did not acknowledge help of literary figures on The Seven Pillars of Wisdom. However, the book was published in French in 1954 and English in 1955, and critics have since questioned its level of objectivity.

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