Censorship of Mark Twain

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Censorship of Mark Twain
Mark Twain’s most famous work, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, has been banned in classrooms and libraries since its first year of American publication, 1885. At the constant prodding of Louisa May Alcott, the public library of Concord, Massachusetts, banned the book; Louisa charged that it was unsuitable for impressionable young people. This criticism died down until the racially charged environment of the 1960’s, when African Americans began calling the novel “racist trash.” Attempts to ban the book stirred up again in 1989, when a black administrator of an intermediate school named after Mark Twain in Fairfax, Virginia, pushed to ban the book. Other censored works by Mark Twain include The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), which the Brooklyn Library in New York banned on its publication, calling it too coarse for young readers. During Mark Twain’s brief 1864 stint as a news reporter for the San Francisco Call, his editor censored and suppressed his articles exposing social problems and police misconduct in order not to offend the papers largely white and working- class readers. Anti-British sentiments expressed in the novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889) and the travel book Following the Equator (1897) provoked mild attempts to ban these books in Great Britain. Communist nations, particularly the Soviet Union and China, have banned some of Mark Twain’s work as “bourgeois” literature, while simultaneously lionizing his antireligious and anti-imperialistic writings.

Family and Friends
As a printer’s apprentice on Missouri newspapers, the young Sam Clemens wrote occasional articles, but felt constrained by his older brother, Orion Clemens, who restricted his humorous tendencies. Conflicts with Orion contributed to his leaving Hannibal in 1853 for the East Coast, where he worked as a printer. Mark Twain’s real career as a writer began in Nevada in 1862, when he became a reporter for the Virginia City Territorial...
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