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# 3: Lolita

Vladimir Nabokov had already written numerous books and essays when he finished Lolita in 1953, having worked on it for five years. Nabokov, who was Russian but lived in USA by the time he wrote Lolita, tried to pitch the novel to five different American publishing houses, but no one seemed interested in publishing a story about a self-loathing, unreliable literature professor who fell in love with a 12-year old girl. Being a literature professor himself, Nabokov didn't give up on his story and kept on going. The book wasn't published until 1955 when it accidentally landed on the table of a small publishing house in Paris known for publishing pornography of very questionable quality. In fact, the book wasn't published in the USA until 1958 where it became an instant bestseller. So, when was it banned, then? In France, the country where it had been published in the first place. The ban was initiated by the Minister of the Interior and lasted two years.

# 2: The works of Kafka

There is no doubt about it: Franz Kafka remains one of the greatest writers of all time. His works have influenced many other writers, yet no one can convey that essentially Kafkaesque way of describing an experience so that it creeps under your skin quite like the man himself. 

Kafka
Image: PD
The face of a man who had more to worry about than just finding his inspiration

Who would want to ban the works of such a brilliant artist? Perhaps a government which felt that his visions came a bit too close to its own regime. After the cultural uprising of the Prague Spring in 1968, Kafka's works were banned among many other works of art. With his books no longer read and his name almost unmentionable, Kafka could have fallen into history's oblivion. But in the Western world his nightmarish stories were still widely read, having been translated before the ban. With glasnost sweeping across the Eastern bloc in the late 80's, his works were released again in Czechoslovakia in 1989. The re-publication of his works, along with letters and drawings, could have been seen as a great victory for the freedom of artists, but it was not entirely so. At the time of Kafka's re-publication, more than 150 Czechoslovakian writers and artists were still imprisoned, among them playwright Vaclav Havel, who had been sentenced to seven months in prison for anti-governmental activities. But things were about to change: at the end of 1989, Havel was the president of Czechoslovakia.

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