When it was first published in 1951, James Jones’ classic World War II novel From Here to Eternity was heavily censored. Among the things removed were explicit mentions of gay sex and a number of four-letter words. The author objected to the changes, but eventually acceded to his publisher’s wishes (he needed to eat). Now, as the book approaches its sixtieth anniversary, James’ heirs have arranged for a new, uncensored digital version of the novel.
To illustrate the impact of such censorship consider the fact that a book that the author intended to delve into subject of homosexuality became part of the pantheon of heterosexual male bravado. As Julie Bosman noted in the The New York Times piece that revealed this news, “the novel was turned into a classic movie with one of the most memorable heterosexual sex scenes of all time, a passionate romp on the beach starring Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr.”
One the eve of the new work’s publication (and in furtherance of authorial freedom everywhere), we present five other important books that have suffered at the hands of censors but which were eventually rescued by diligent editors.
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
What Was Censored: The entire 21st chapter, in which the main character (Alex) realizes that he was wrong to be so violent and vows to changes his ways, was removed from the American edition. (The publisher actually felt the original ending would be to cheerful and untrue to the rest of the story).
Year Uncensored Version Was Published: 1987 (by W.W. Norton & Company)