An academic librarian and scholar of historical book banning debriefs after his third trip to visit the holdings of Harvard’s Houghton Library — including rare books that once appeared on the Catholic Index of Forbidden Books.
This month we celebrate the birthday of banned French novelist Gustave Flaubert (December 12). Find out what (most likely) earned his most famous novel a place on the Catholic Index of Forbidden Books.
As an academic librarian with a deep interest in historical and contemporary book censorship, I can’t imagine a better way to spend my vacation than with the very books deemed too dangerous to read. This post is my first dispatch as a visiting fellow in publishing history at the Houghton Library, Harvard’s main repository of rare books and manuscripts.
The Index Librorum Prohibitorum was a list of books banned for lay Roman Catholic readership. Officially — though the Church was never fully explicit in its means of prosecution of such rules — any individual who dared read any books included on this list risked excommunication and, thus, spiritual damnation.