Whilst aimed at ensuring the right of any person to have equal access to unpopular or unorthodox literature and viewpoints, it also gives the chance for sane and productive reasoning and argument of the material whilst allowing ideas to be gleaned from the source. Without such dialogue it becomes corrosive not just for young people but for society also.
There is a wider sense of scale to the week though, as internationally it seeks to focus on countries such as North Korea, Azerbaijan, Myanmar etc, where individuals are persecuted for their writings.
The most (modern) extreme censorship that comes to mind though, would have to be the Nazis and their book burning and also that dude in America who spent his time burning the Koran. Tantalizingly literature has its own reflective examples of book burnings, the ones that come to mind most readily for me being in Farenheit 451, The Name of the Rose and the ‘memory hole’ alluded to in 1984. It’s a bibliophile’s nightmare.
For western countries it poses the question is there any such thing as banned literature anymore, since the advent of the internet, access to anything is virtually guaranteed? Anything that is to severely censored gets driven underground and written about in abstract terms for the ‘initiated’, now I don’t want to get all freemason on you here so I will recommend a fantastic book called Europe Without Walls, which features a collection of essays on art, pre and post Berlin wall and explains the veiled implications of the various movements to educate in such fraught times.
As for myself I think I will focus on the old skool banned novels of the Soviet Union, they always seem to have a ridiculously epic nature about them, so the ones I own and need to get around to reading consist of The First Circle and The Gulag Archipelago both by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Master and the Margarita – Mikhail Bulgarov, Dr Zhivago – Boris Pasternak and Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman. There may be more inhabiting my to read pile, but this is more than enough to begin with.