Libraries and banning books

Sir, – Of course the censorship of books that do not openly advocate hate or crime is wrong. However, reading Lorraine Levis's piece ("Headmaster bans 'brutal, banal' Irish books from UK school's library", Culture, Online, March 29th), I cannot help thinking about the experience of readers or budding readers in the middle years of the last century in Ireland.

At that time almost any book that had any merit, including those by Irish giants of literature such as John McGahern, Edna O’Brien, and many others, were banned by the official censor. Our response was to crave these publications much more than might otherwise be the case, and to do whatever was required in order to obtain them. Then they had to be read in secret and hidden in between times.

But the effort was well worth it, and added greatly to the enjoyment; forbidden fruit does indeed taste better.

In light of this it is worth considering that the action of the headmaster who is the subject of the report actually constitutes a cunning plan, the aim of which is to motivate children to read more, not less. – Yours, etc,


Windy Arbour,

Dublin 14.