Monday, June 14, 2010

"Index librorum prohibitorum"...eliminated in 1966

I don't think Frank Harris' My Life and Loves, James Joyce's Ulysses, D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover, Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn, and many others [especially from Grove Press] were in Index of Prohibited Books though frowned on by the Catholic Church, but Giordano Bruno, René Descartes, and selected works by Copernicus and Galileo were. How things change...slowly.

Bill Ashworth in the Linda Hall Library Newsletter wrote...

On June 14, 1966, the Index of Prohibited Books (Index librorum prohibitorum) was abolished by the Catholic Church. The Index had been established by Pope Paul IV in 1557, with the Pope’s list appearing in 1559, and then the first official Index being issued by the Council of Trent in 1564. Through the four succeeding centuries, new books were gradually added as they were published and deemed dangerous by the Congregation of the Index. A number of scientists and natural philosophers have appeared on the Index. Some, such as Giordano Bruno and René Descartes, had their entire bodies of work prohibited. More commonly, a single book was banned: Copernicus’ De revolutionibus was placed on the Index in 1616; Galileo's Dialogo (Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems) joined Copernicus in 1634. Sometimes the choice was curious: Kepler's Epitome of Copernican Astronomy was banned in 1619, presumably because of the title, but none of his other works were prohibited. Sometimes the timing was also odd: Montaigne's Essais were banned in 1676, almost a century after they were first published in 1580. In one famous instance, a prohibition was later lifted: Galileo, Copernicus, and Kepler were all removed from the Index in 1822. But nearly every other book placed on the Index remained until the entire Index was dissolved in 1966. The largest book ever banned? In terms of sheer numbers of pages, it must be the great French Encyclopedié (1751-77), which was prohibited in 1758, when only 7 of the 33 volumes had been published.

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