The Long History of CensorshipSome of the most controversial books in history are now regarded as classics. The Bible and works by Shakespeare are among those that have been banned over the past two thousand years. Here is a selective timeline of book bannings, burnings, and other censorship activities. In B. With all previous historical records destroyed, he thought history could be said to begin with him.
You can learn about it from the project website , and support it on Kickstarter. But now that the preparatory work of the project is done, I should be able to share more here over the coming weeks and months. The project was born out of Cory Doctorow and me sitting down at conventions from time to time and chatting about our work, and over and over something he was seeing current corporations or governments try out with digital regulation would be jarringly similar to something I saw guilds or city-states try during the print revolution. Past information revolutions—from the printing press, to radio and talkies—give us test cases that show us what effects different policies had, so by looking, for example, at where the book trade fared better, Paris or Amsterdam, we can also look at what effects different regulations are likely to have on current information economies, and artistic output. There will more to share over the next months as the videos go online, but today I want to share one of the fun little pieces I wrote for exhibit on Book Burning.
O n the night of 10 May , a crowd of some 40, people gathered in the Opernplatz — now the Bebelplatz — in the Mitte district of Berlin. Amid much joyous singing, band-playing and chanting of oaths and incantations, they watched soldiers and police from the SS, brownshirted members of the paramilitary SA, and impassioned youths from the German Student Association and Hitler Youth Movement burn, at the behest of propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, upwards of 25, books decreed to be "un-German". The climax of a month-long nationwide campaign, this best-known of literary bonfires was intended as both a purge and a purification of the true German spirit, supposedly weakened and corrupted by un-German ideas and intellectualism. You do well, in this midnight hour, to commit to the flames the evil spirit of the past. From this wreckage the phoenix of a new spirit will triumphantly rise.
First famous case of public censorship. Socrates was executed because of his influence he was having over the youth of Rome. The Emperor wanted people after him to believe that the world started with his rein. These destructive acts lead to a revolt in China, the subsequent destruction of the remaining philosophical and historical documents, and subsequently the ruin of Chinese culture. The Chinese had to rebuild what defined them as a people in the decades and centuries after. The burning of the Library of Alexandria in Egypt between 50 B.
Book burning is the ritual destruction by fire of books or other written materials, usually carried out in a public context. The burning of books represents an element of censorship and usually proceeds from a cultural, religious, or political opposition to the materials in question. In some cases, the destroyed works are irreplaceable and their burning constitutes a severe loss to cultural heritage. In other cases, such as the Nazi book burnings , other copies of the destroyed books survive, but the instance of book burning becomes emblematic of a harsh and oppressive regime which is seeking to censor or silence an aspect of a nation's culture. Book burning can be an act of contempt for the book's contents or author, and the act is intended to draw wider public attention to this opinion. Art destruction is related to book burning, both because it might have similar cultural, religious, or political connotations, and because in various historical cases, books and artworks were destroyed at the same time.
Censorship has followed the free expressions of men and women like a shadow throughout history. In ancient societies, for example China, censorship was considered a legitimate instrument for regulating the moral and political life of the population. The origin of the term censor can be traced to the office of censor established in Rome i BC. In Rome, as in the ancient Greek communities, the ideal of good governance included shaping the character of the people. Hence censorship was regarded as an honourable task. In China, the first censorship law was introduced in AD.
What historians chose to write about is often informed not just by their intellectual interests, but also by present-day concerns. Sometimes those connections are drawn subtly. But on occasion they are blatant. Historical discussion of book burning is no different. That is, book burnings in revolutionary England from to