Book burning
Book burning, biblioclasm or libricide is the practice of destroying, often ceremoniously
A ceremony is an event of ritual significance, performed on a special occasion. The word may be of Etruscan origin.-Ceremonial occasions:A ceremony may mark a rite of passage in a human life, marking the significance of, for example:* birth...

, book
A book is a set or collection of written, printed, illustrated, or blank sheets, made of hot lava, paper, parchment, or other materials, usually fastened together to hinge at one side. A single sheet within a book is called a leaf or leaflet, and each side of a leaf is called a page...

s or other written material and media. In modern times, other forms of media, such as phonograph records
Gramophone record
A gramophone record, commonly known as a phonograph record , vinyl record , or colloquially, a record, is an analog sound storage medium consisting of a flat disc with an inscribed, modulated spiral groove...

, video tapes
Video is the technology of electronically capturing, recording, processing, storing, transmitting, and reconstructing a sequence of still images representing scenes in motion.- History :...

, and CDs
Compact Disc
The Compact Disc is an optical disc used to store digital data. It was originally developed to store and playback sound recordings exclusively, but later expanded to encompass data storage , write-once audio and data storage , rewritable media , Video Compact Discs , Super Video Compact Discs ,...

 have also been ceremoniously burned, torched, or shredded. The practice, usually carried out in public, is generally motivated by moral
Morality is the differentiation among intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good and bad . A moral code is a system of morality and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code...

, religious
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

, or political
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

 objections to the material.

Some particular cases of book burning are long and traumatically remembered - because the books destroyed were irreplaceable and their loss constituted a severe damage to cultural heritage, and/or because this instance of book burning has become emblematic of a harsh and oppressive regime. Such were the destruction of the Library of Alexandria
Library of Alexandria
The Royal Library of Alexandria, or Ancient Library of Alexandria, in Alexandria, Egypt, was the largest and most significant great library of the ancient world. It flourished under the patronage of the Ptolemaic dynasty and functioned as a major center of scholarship from its construction in the...

, the obliteration of the Library of Baghdad
House of Wisdom
The House of Wisdom was a library and translation institute established in Abbassid-era Baghdad, Iraq. It was a key institution in the Translation Movement and considered to have been a major intellectual centre during the Islamic Golden Age...

, the burning of books and burying of scholars
Burning of books and burying of scholars
Burning of the books and burying of the scholars is a phrase that refers to a policy and a sequence of events in the Qin Dynasty of Ancient China, between the period of 213 and 206 BC. During these events, the Hundred Schools of Thought were pruned; legalism survived...

 under China's Qin Dynasty
Qin Dynasty
The Qin Dynasty was the first imperial dynasty of China, lasting from 221 to 207 BC. The Qin state derived its name from its heartland of Qin, in modern-day Shaanxi. The strength of the Qin state was greatly increased by the legalist reforms of Shang Yang in the 4th century BC, during the Warring...

, the destruction of Aztec codices
Aztec codices
Aztec codices are books written by pre-Columbian and colonial-era Aztecs. These codices provide some of the best primary sources for Aztec culture....

 by Spanish conquistadors and priests, and the Nazi book burnings
Nazi book burnings
The Nazi book burnings were a campaign conducted by the authorities of Nazi Germany to ceremonially burn all books in Germany which did not correspond with Nazi ideology.-The book-burning campaign:...

 of Jewish literature.

Although one motivation for book burning may be censorship, it is in most cases an act of displaying severe displeasure, hatred, or contempt for the book's contents or author, or to attract attention for the outrage perceived by those who highly appreciate the book and its content. For example, the burning of Beatles records after a remark by John Lennon concerning Jesus Christ, the destruction of the Sarajevo
Sarajevo |Bosnia]], surrounded by the Dinaric Alps and situated along the Miljacka River in the heart of Southeastern Europe and the Balkans....

 National Library, and the 2010 Qur'an-burning controversy
2010 Qur'an-burning controversy
The Dove World Quran-burning controversy arose in July 2010, when Terry Jones, the pastor of the Christian Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, U.S., declared he would burn 200 Qurans on the 2010 anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Media coverage resulted in international...


Historical background

From China's 3rd century BC Qin Dynasty
Qin Dynasty
The Qin Dynasty was the first imperial dynasty of China, lasting from 221 to 207 BC. The Qin state derived its name from its heartland of Qin, in modern-day Shaanxi. The strength of the Qin state was greatly increased by the legalist reforms of Shang Yang in the 4th century BC, during the Warring...

 to the present day, the burning of books has a long history as a tool wielded by authorities both secular
Civil authority
Civil authority is that apparatus of the state other than its military units that enforces law and order. It is also used to distinguish between religious authority and secular authority...

 and religious
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

, in efforts to suppress dissent
Dissent is a sentiment or philosophy of non-agreement or opposition to a prevailing idea or an entity...

ing or heretical
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

 views that are perceived as posing a threat
Threat of force in public international law is a situation between states described by British lawyer Ian Brownlie as:The 1969 Vienna convention on the Law of Treaties notes in its preamble that both the threat and the use of force are prohibited...

 to the prevailing order.

According to scholar Elaine Pagels
Elaine Pagels
Elaine Pagels, née Hiesey , is the Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University. The recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, she is best known for her studies and writing on the Gnostic Gospels...

, "In AD 367, Athanasius, the zealous bishop of Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

… issued an Easter letter in which he demanded that Egyptian monks destroy all such unacceptable writings, except for those he specifically listed as 'acceptable' even 'canonical' — a list that constitutes the present 'New Testament'". Although Pagels cites Athanasius's Paschal letter (letter 39) for 367 AD, there is no order for monks to destroy heretical works contained in that letter.
Thus, heretical texts do not turn up as palimpsest
A palimpsest is a manuscript page from a scroll or book from which the text has been scraped off and which can be used again. The word "palimpsest" comes through Latin palimpsēstus from Ancient Greek παλίμψηστος originally compounded from πάλιν and ψάω literally meaning “scraped...

s, washed clean and overwritten, as pagan
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

 ones do; many early Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 texts have been as thoroughly "lost" as if they had been publicly burnt.

Nalanda, an ancient center of higher learning in Bihar, India was sacked by Turkic Muslim invaders under Bakhtiyar Khalji in 1193. The great library of Nalanda University was so vast that it is reported to have burned for three months after the invaders set fire to it, sacked and destroyed the monasteries, and drove the monks from the site.

In his 1821 play, Almansor, the German writer Heinrich Heine
Heinrich Heine
Christian Johann Heinrich Heine was one of the most significant German poets of the 19th century. He was also a journalist, essayist, and literary critic. He is best known outside Germany for his early lyric poetry, which was set to music in the form of Lieder by composers such as Robert Schumann...

 — referring to the burning of the Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 holy book, the Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

, during the Spanish Inquisition
Spanish Inquisition
The Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition , commonly known as the Spanish Inquisition , was a tribunal established in 1480 by Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. It was intended to maintain Catholic orthodoxy in their kingdoms, and to replace the Medieval...

 — wrote, "Where they burn books, so too will they in the end burn human beings." ("Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen.")

In Azerbaijan, when a modified Latin alphabet was adopted, books published in Arabic script were burned, especially in the late 1920s and 1930s. The texts were not limited to the Quran; medical and historical manuscripts were also destroyed..

Over a century later, Heine's books were among the thousands of volumes that were torched by the Nazis
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 in Berlin's Opernplatz
The Bebelplatz is a public square in the central Mitte district of Berlin, the capital of Germany.The square is located on the south side of the Unter den Linden boulevard, a major east-west thoroughfare in the city centre...


Anthony Comstock
Anthony Comstock
Anthony Comstock was a United States Postal Inspector and politician dedicated to ideas of Victorian morality.-Biography:...

's New York Society for the Suppression of Vice
New York Society for the Suppression of Vice
The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice was an institution dedicated to supervising the morality of the public, founded in 1873. Its specific mission was to monitor compliance with state laws and work with the courts and district attorneys in bringing offenders to justice. It and its...

, founded in 1873, inscribed book burning on its seal, as a worthy goal to be achieved (see illustration at right). Comstock's total accomplishment in a long and influential career is estimated to have been the destruction of some 15 tons of books, 284,000 pounds of plates for printing such 'objectionable' books, and nearly 4,000,000 pictures. All of this material was defined as "lewd
"Lascivious" is a word synonymous with lustful or lewd or unruly .- Legal usage :In American legal jargon, lascivious is a semi-technical term indicating immoral sexual thoughts or actions. It is often used in the legal description of criminal acts in which some sort of sexual activity is...

" by Comstock's very broad definition of the term — which he and his associates successfully lobbied the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 to incorporate in the Comstock Law
Comstock Law
The Comstock Act, , enacted March 3, 1873, was a United States federal law which amended the Post Office Act and made it illegal to send any "obscene, lewd, and/or lascivious" materials through the mail, including contraceptive devices and information. In addition to banning contraceptives, this...


In the 1950s several books by William Reich were ordered to be burned in the U.S. under judicial orders.

The Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury
Ray Douglas Bradbury is an American fantasy, horror, science fiction, and mystery writer. Best known for his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 and for the science fiction stories gathered together as The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man , Bradbury is one of the most celebrated among 20th...

 novel Fahrenheit 451
Fahrenheit 451
Fahrenheit 451 is a 1953 dystopian novel by Ray Bradbury. The novel presents a future American society where reading is outlawed and firemen start fires to burn books...

is about a fictional future society that has institutionalized book burning. In Orwell
George Orwell
Eric Arthur Blair , better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist...

's Nineteen Eighty-Four
Nineteen Eighty-Four
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell is a dystopian novel about Oceania, a society ruled by the oligarchical dictatorship of the Party...

, the euphemistically-called "memory hole
Memory hole
A memory hole is any mechanism for the alteration or disappearance of inconvenient or embarrassing documents, photographs, transcripts, or other records, such as from a web site or other archive, particularly as part of an attempt to give the impression that something never happened...

" is used to burn any book or written text which is inconvenient to the regime, and there is mention of "the total destruction of all books published before 1960".

The advent of the digital age has resulted in an immense collection of written work being catalogued exclusively or primarily in digital form. The intentional deletion or removal of these works has been often referred to as a new form of book burning.

Some supporters have celebrated book burning cases in art and other media. Such is the bas-relief by Giovanni Battista Maini
Giovanni Battista Maini
Giovanni Battista Maini was an Italian sculptor of the Late-Baroque period, active mainly in Rome.He was born in Cassano Magnago in Lombardy, and died in Rome. He may have had contacts with Foggini in Florence. By 1708, he had moved to Rome where he joined the large studio of Camillo Rusconi,...

 of The Burning of Heretical Books over a side door on the façade of Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome, which depicts the burning of 'heretical' books as a triumph of righteousness.

For another purpose: Guru Granth Sahib

In the Sikh
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य , meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष , meaning "instruction"...

 religion, any copies of the Guru Granth Sahib
Guru Granth Sahib
Sri Guru Granth Sahib , or Adi Granth, is the religious text of Sikhism. It is the final and eternal guru of the Sikhs. It is a voluminous text of 1430 angs, compiled and composed during the period of Sikh gurus, from 1469 to 1708...

 which are too badly damaged to be used, and any printer's waste which has any of its text on (see Guru Granth Sahib#Printing), are cremated with a similar ceremony as cremating a deceased man. Such burning is called Agan Bhet.

Notable unintentional burnings

In 1666, as the Great Fire of London
Great Fire of London
The Great Fire of London was a major conflagration that swept through the central parts of the English city of London, from Sunday, 2 September to Wednesday, 5 September 1666. The fire gutted the medieval City of London inside the old Roman City Wall...

 advanced, many booksellers who had stores in London put their books in Old St Paul's Cathedral
Old St Paul's Cathedral
Old St Paul's Cathedral is a name used to refer to the medieval cathedral of the City of London which until 1666 stood on the site of the present St Paul's Cathedral. Built between 1087 and 1314 and dedicated to St Paul, the cathedral was the fourth church on the site at Ludgate Hill...

's stone-lined crypt
In architecture, a crypt is a stone chamber or vault beneath the floor of a burial vault possibly containing sarcophagi, coffins or relics....

 for safety. But as the cathedral burned falling heavy masonry broke through into the crypt and let the fire in and all the books burned. A contemporary description said that was the biggest burning of books since the burning of the Alexandria Library.

In 1697 the Royal Tre Kronor
Tre kronor
Tre kronor, Swedish "Three crowns", may refer to:*Three Crowns, a national emblem of Sweden*Sweden men's national ice hockey team, which has the Swedish national emblem on its jersey*Tre Kronor , a 16th century royal castle in Stockholm, Sweden...

 castle in Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

, Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 burned down, causing the destruction of most of Sweden's national library and royal archives and making the country's early history unusually difficult to document. Investigation determined that the fire was caused by the gross negligence of two officials, but no deliberate arson. The two were sentenced to death but the sentence later communed.

The entire library of the notable book collector Aleksei Musin-Pushkin
Aleksei Musin-Pushkin
Aleksei Ivanovich Musin-Pushkin , count since 1797, statesman, historian and art collector. Musin-Pushkin is credited with discovering in Yaroslavl the manuscript The Tale of Igor's Campaign...

 was among numerous buildings consumed in the Great Moscow Fire
Fire of Moscow (1812)
The 1812 Fire of Moscow broke out on September 14, 1812 in Moscow on the day when Russian troops and most residents abandoned the city and Napoleon's vanguard troops entered the city following the Battle of Borodino...

 when Napoleon's Grand Army entered Moscow. Among the books lost was the original (and only) manuscript copy of "The Tale of Igor's Campaign
The Tale of Igor's Campaign
The Tale of Igor's Campaign is an anonymous epic poem written in the Old East Slavic language.The title is occasionally translated as The Song of Igor's Campaign, The Lay of Igor's Campaign, and The Lay of...

", a masterpiece of Russian medieval literature, whose text was fortunately transcribed and published a few years earlier. It is still debated whether or not the fire was set deliberately and if so by whom; in any case, the books were clearly not the intended target.

During the London Blitz in the Second World War, the British Museum
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

 was bombed on 23 September 1940 and a small bomb fell on the Gallery where the book collection was stored. It was not, in this case, a specific German intention to burn books. However, 124 volumes were completely destroyed, a further 304 were damaged beyond repair, and many others required substantial restoration.

Burnt by its author

  • In 1588, the exiled English Catholic William Cardinal Allen wrote "An Admonition to the Nobility and People of England
    An Admonition to the nobility and people of England
    The An Admonition to the Nobility and People of England was written by William Cardinal Allen in an attempt to raise the English Catholics in revolt against their Queen, Elizabeth I, at the same time that the Spanish Armada mounted their invasion of England. The publication was a scathing attack...

    ", a work sharply attacking Queen Elizabeth I. It was to be published in Spanish-occupied England in the event of the Spanish Armada
    Spanish Armada
    This article refers to the Battle of Gravelines, for the modern navy of Spain, see Spanish NavyThe Spanish Armada was the Spanish fleet that sailed against England under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia in 1588, with the intention of overthrowing Elizabeth I of England to stop English...

     succeeding in its invasion. Upon the defeat of the Armada, Allen carefully consigned his publication to the fire, and we only know of it through one of Elizabeth's spies, who had stolen a copy.
  • The notable Hassidic Rabbi Nachman of Breslov
    Nachman of Breslov
    Nachman of Breslov , also known as Reb Nachman of Bratslav, Reb Nachman Breslover , Nachman from Uman , was the founder of the Breslov Hasidic movement....

     is reported to have written a book which he himself burned in 1808. His followers, up to the present, mourn "The Burned Book" and seek in their Rabbi's surviving writings for clues as to what the lost volume contained and why it was destroyed (see
  • Carlo Goldoni
    Carlo Goldoni
    Carlo Osvaldo Goldoni was an Italian playwright and librettist from the Republic of Venice. His works include some of Italy's most famous and best-loved plays. Audiences have admired the plays of Goldoni for their ingenious mix of wit and honesty...

     is known to have burned his first play, a tragedy
    Tragedy is a form of art based on human suffering that offers its audience pleasure. While most cultures have developed forms that provoke this paradoxical response, tragedy refers to a specific tradition of drama that has played a unique and important role historically in the self-definition of...

     called Amalasunta, when encountering unfavorable criticism.
  • Joe Shuster
    Joe Shuster
    Joseph "Joe" Shuster was a Canadian-born American comic book artist. He was best known for co-creating the DC Comics character Superman, with writer Jerry Siegel, first published in Action Comics #1...

    , who together with Jerry Siegel
    Jerry Siegel
    Jerome "Jerry" Siegel , who also used pseudonyms including Joe Carter, Jerry Ess, and Herbert S...

     created the fictional superhero
    A superhero is a type of stock character, possessing "extraordinary or superhuman powers", dedicated to protecting the public. Since the debut of the prototypical superhero Superman in 1938, stories of superheroes — ranging from brief episodic adventures to continuing years-long sagas —...

    Superman is a fictional comic book superhero appearing in publications by DC Comics, widely considered to be an American cultural icon. Created by American writer Jerry Siegel and Canadian-born American artist Joe Shuster in 1932 while both were living in Cleveland, Ohio, and sold to Detective...

    , in 1933 burned the first Superman story when under the impression that it would not find a publisher.

Narrow escapes

When Virgil
Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

 died, he left instructions that his manuscript of the Aeneid
The Aeneid is a Latin epic poem, written by Virgil between 29 and 19 BC, that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who travelled to Italy, where he became the ancestor of the Romans. It is composed of roughly 10,000 lines in dactylic hexameter...

was to be burnt, as it was a draft version with uncorrected faults and not a final version for release; however, this instruction was ignored.

Before his death, Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka was a culturally influential German-language author of short stories and novels. Contemporary critics and academics, including Vladimir Nabokov, regard Kafka as one of the best writers of the 20th century...

 wrote to his friend and literary executor
Literary executor
A literary executor is a person with decision-making power in respect of a literary estate. According to Wills, Administration and Taxation: a practical guide "A will may appoint different executors to deal with different parts of the estate...

 Max Brod
Max Brod
Max Brod was a German-speaking Czech Jewish, later Israeli, author, composer, and journalist. Although he was a prolific writer in his own right, he is most famous as the friend and biographer of Franz Kafka...

: "Dearest Max, my last request: Everything I leave behind me ... in the way of diaries, manuscripts, letters (my own and others'), sketches, and so on, [is] to be burned unread." Brod overrode Kafka's wishes, believing that Kafka had given these directions to him specifically, because Kafka knew he would not honour them — Brod had told him as much. Had Brod carried out Kafka's instructions, virtually the whole of Kafka's work - except for a few short stories published in his lifetime - would have been lost forever. Most critics, at the time and up to the present, justify Brod's decision.

A similar case concerns the the noted American poet Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson
Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was an American poet. Born in Amherst, Massachusetts, to a successful family with strong community ties, she lived a mostly introverted and reclusive life...

, who died in 1890 and left to her sister Lavinia the instruction of burning all her papers. Lavinia Dickinson did burn almost all of her sister's correspondences, but interpreted the will as not including the forty notebooks and loose sheets, all filled with almost 1800 poems; these Lavinia saved and began to publish the poems that year. Had Lavinia Dickinson been more strict in carrying out her sister's will, all but a small handful of Emily Dickinson's poetic work would have been lost

In literature

  • A much-quoted line in Mikhail Bulgakov
    Mikhail Bulgakov
    Mikhaíl Afanásyevich Bulgákov was a Soviet Russian writer and playwright active in the first half of the 20th century. He is best known for his novel The Master and Margarita, which The Times of London has called one of the masterpieces of the 20th century.-Biography:Mikhail Bulgakov was born on...

    's The Master and Margarita
    The Master and Margarita
    The Master and Margarita is a novel by Mikhail Bulgakov, woven around the premise of a visit by the Devil to the fervently atheistic Soviet Union. Many critics consider the book to be one of the greatest novels of the 20th century, and one of the foremost Soviet satires, directed against a...

    is "manuscripts don't burn" . "The Master", a major protagonist in the book, is a writer who is plagued by both his own mental problems and the oppression of Stalin's regime in 1930s Moscow. He burns his treasured manuscript in an effort to hide it from the Soviet authorities and cleanse his own mind from the troubles the work has brought him. The character Woland (a mysterious magician who is in fact Satan) later gives the manuscript back to him, saying, "Didn't you know that manuscripts don't burn?" There is an autobiographical element reflected in the Master's character here, as Bulgakov in fact burned an early copy of The Master and Margarita for much the same reasons.
  • The first part of Don Quixote has a scene in which the priest and the housekeeper of the eponymous knight go through the chivalry books that have turned him mad. In a kind of auto de fe, they burn most of them. The comments of the priest express the literary tastes of the author, though he offers some sharp criticisms of Cervantes' works as well. It is notable that he saves Tirant lo Blanc
    Tirant lo Blanc
    Tirant lo Blanch or Tirant lo Blanc is a romance written by the Valencian knight Joanot Martorell and published in Valencia in 1490. The title means "Tirant the White" and is the name of the main character in the romance...

  • At the conclusion of the novel "Auto da Fe" by Nobel-Prize winner Elias Canetti
    Elias Canetti
    Elias Canetti was a Bulgarian-born modernist novelist, playwright, memoirist, and non-fiction writer. He wrote in German and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1981, "for writings marked by a broad outlook, a wealth of ideas and artistic power".-Life:...

    , the bibliophile protagonist immolates himself on a pile of his own library.
  • The Japanese novel Toshokan Sensou is about the conflict between two military organizations after the Japanese government passed a law that allows the censorship of any media deemed to be potentially harmful to Japanese society, including book burning.
  • The short story "Earth's Holocaust" from Nathaniel Hawthorne's
    Nathaniel Hawthorne
    Nathaniel Hawthorne was an American novelist and short story writer.Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in 1804 in the city of Salem, Massachusetts to Nathaniel Hathorne and the former Elizabeth Clarke Manning. His ancestors include John Hathorne, a judge during the Salem Witch Trials...

     Mosses from an Old Manse
    Mosses from an Old Manse
    Mosses from an Old Manse was a short story collection by Nathaniel Hawthorne, first published in 1846.-Background and publication history:...

    , is about a society that burns everything that it finds offensive, including its literature.
  • In Part II of the play Tamburlaine, by Christopher Marlowe
    Christopher Marlowe
    Christopher Marlowe was an English dramatist, poet and translator of the Elizabethan era. As the foremost Elizabethan tragedian, next to William Shakespeare, he is known for his blank verse, his overreaching protagonists, and his mysterious death.A warrant was issued for Marlowe's arrest on 18 May...

    , Tamburlaine (the protagonist) burns a copy of the Qur'an
    The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

     after having conquered Asia Minor
    Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

     and Egypt
    Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

    . His book-burning and declaration of independence from any deity leads to his fatal illness, and subsequently the end of the play.
  • In Anne of Green Gables
    Anne of Green Gables
    Anne of Green Gables is a bestselling novel by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery published in 1908. Set in 1878, it was written as fiction for readers of all ages, but in recent decades has been considered a children's book...

    , Anne watches in horror as her caretaker burns her book containing the poem "Lady of Shallot" as punishment for reading instead of doing her chores.
  • In the introduction of the 1967 Simon and Schuster book club edition
    Book sales club
    A book sales club is a subscription-based method of selling and purchasing books. It is more often called simply a book club, a term that is also used to describe a book discussion club, which can cause confusion.-How book sales clubs work:...

     of Fahrenheit 451
    Fahrenheit 451
    Fahrenheit 451 is a 1953 dystopian novel by Ray Bradbury. The novel presents a future American society where reading is outlawed and firemen start fires to burn books...

    , Ray Bradbury
    Ray Bradbury
    Ray Douglas Bradbury is an American fantasy, horror, science fiction, and mystery writer. Best known for his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 and for the science fiction stories gathered together as The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man , Bradbury is one of the most celebrated among 20th...

     implies that the Nazi book burnings drove him to write the short story "The Fireman" which was the precursor along with the foundation for his novel Fahrenheit 451, stating, "It follows then that when Hitler burned a book I felt it as keenly, please forgive me, as his killing a human, for in the long sum of history they are one and the same flesh."

  • At the conclusion of Umberto Eco
    Umberto Eco
    Umberto Eco Knight Grand Cross is an Italian semiotician, essayist, philosopher, literary critic, and novelist, best known for his novel The Name of the Rose , an intellectual mystery combining semiotics in fiction, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory...

    's "The Name of the Rose
    The Name of the Rose
    The Name of the Rose is the first novel by Italian author Umberto Eco. It is a historical murder mystery set in an Italian monastery in the year 1327, an intellectual mystery combining semiotics in fiction, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory...

    ", the unique Medieval library which is at the center of the book's plot is burned and totally destroyed.

Film and television

  • In one episode of The Simpsons
    The Simpsons
    The Simpsons is an American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series is a satirical parody of a middle class American lifestyle epitomized by its family of the same name, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie...

    , Lisa Simpson
    Lisa Simpson
    Lisa Marie Simpson is a fictional main character in the animated television series The Simpsons. She is the middle child of the Simpson family. Voiced by Yeardley Smith, Lisa first appeared on television in The Tracey Ullman Show short "Good Night" on April 19, 1987. Cartoonist Matt Groening...

     sees a bookmobile being driven by Reverend Lovejoy, however the letters behind a tree reveal that it actually reads Book-Burning-Mobile.
  • In one episode of Fullmetal Alchemist
    Fullmetal Alchemist
    , is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa. The world of Fullmetal Alchemist is styled after the European Industrial Revolution...

    , in order to prevent Edward from getting information on the Philosopher's Stone, the homunculi burn down one section of the library.
  • In the Myst
    Myst is a graphic adventure video game designed and directed by the brothers Robyn and Rand Miller. It was developed by Cyan , a Spokane, Washington––based studio, and published and distributed by Brøderbund. The Millers began working on Myst in and released it for the Mac OS computer on September...

    series of computer games and books, the only way to destroy the link to an Age is to destroy its Descriptive Book, usually by burning it.
  • In the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
    Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
    Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is a 1989 American adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg, from a story co-written by executive producer George Lucas. It is the third film in the Indiana Jones franchise. Harrison Ford reprises the title role and Sean Connery plays Indiana's father, Henry...

    , Indiana Jones
    Indiana Jones
    Colonel Henry Walton "Indiana" Jones, Jr., Ph.D. is a fictional character and the protagonist of the Indiana Jones franchise. George Lucas and Steven Spielberg created the character in homage to the action heroes of 1930s film serials...

     journeys to Berlin in order to retrieve his father's journal, which gives information about finding the Holy Grail
    Holy Grail
    The Holy Grail is a sacred object figuring in literature and certain Christian traditions, most often identified with the dish, plate, or cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper and said to possess miraculous powers...

    . He retrieves it during a Nazi book burning rally (although it was not targeted for burning itself), where it is inadvertently signed by Hitler himself.
  • In the Red Dwarf
    Red Dwarf
    Red Dwarf is a British comedy franchise which primarily comprises eight series of a television science fiction sitcom that aired on BBC Two between 1988 and 1999 and Dave from 2009–present. It gained cult following. It was created by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, who also wrote the first six series...

    episode "Marooned", Lister
    Dave Lister
    David "Dave" Lister, commonly referred to simply as Lister, is a fictional character from the British science fiction situation comedy Red Dwarf, portrayed by Craig Charles...

     burns Rimmer's
    Arnold Rimmer
    Arnold Judas Rimmer is a fictional character in the science fiction situation comedy Red Dwarf, played by Chris Barrie. He is unpopular with his crew mates, and is often the target of insults or pranks...

     collection of books to heat Starbug. Rimmer initially protests, saying "A book is a thing of beauty. The voice of freedom, the essence of civilisation." Lister counters, "Biggles Learns To Fly?"
  • In the film Pleasantville
    Pleasantville (film)
    Pleasantville is a 1998 American fantasy comedy-drama film written, produced, and directed by Gary Ross. The film stars Tobey Maguire, Reese Witherspoon, William H. Macy, Joan Allen, Marley Shelton and Jeff Daniels. Don Knotts, Paul Walker, Jane Kaczmarek, and J. T. Walsh are also featured.The film...

    , the people who are still black-and-white burn all the books in the library to keep people from becoming colored.
  • In the future depicted in Brian Stableford
    Brian Stableford
    Brian Michael Stableford is a British science fiction writer who has published more than 70 novels. His earlier books were published as by Brian M. Stableford, but more recent ones have dropped the middle initial and appeared under the name Brian Stableford...

    's "The Halcyon Drift", one of the leading planets in the Galaxy is "New Alexandria", whose inhabitants are dedicated to the preservation and extension of knowledge, and are brought up to regard the destruction of books as the most heinous of deeds. Nevertheless, a protagonist agrees to help the Khor-Monsa, an alien species, in destroying books and records of their remote ancestors which were found in a drifting spaceship—since the books contained a shameful secret whose publication might have led to the present Khor-Monsa losing their social status and becoming targets of discrimination.
  • The Crusade
    Crusade (TV series)
    Crusade is a spin-off TV show from J. Michael Straczynski's Babylon 5. Its plot is set in AD 2267, five years after the events of Babylon 5, and just after the movie A Call to Arms. A race called the Drakh have released a nanovirus plague on Earth, which will destroy all life on Earth within five...

     episode "The Needs of Earth" depicts a world that has burned its entire cultural heritage — all art, music, and literature — and hunts the person who has the last remaining copies.
  • The 2002 film Equilibrium
    Equilibrium (film)
    Equilibrium is a 2002 American science fiction action film written and directed by Kurt Wimmer. It stars Christian Bale as John Preston, a warrior-priest and enforcement officer in a future dystopia where both feelings and artistic expression are outlawed and citizens take daily injections of drugs...

     depicts a dystopian society which has eliminated human emotion, and burned all cultural influences that can cause emotion.
  • In the 2004 film The Day after Tomorrow
    The Day After Tomorrow
    The Day After Tomorrow is a 2004 American science-fiction disaster film that depicts the catastrophic effects of global warming in a series of extreme weather events that usher in global cooling which leads to a new ice age. The film did well at the box office, grossing $542,771,772 internationally...

    , to avoid freezing to death, the main character suggests burning books to survive, much to the horror of two librarians.
  • In the Family Guy
    Family Guy
    Family Guy is an American animated television series created by Seth MacFarlane for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series centers on the Griffins, a dysfunctional family consisting of parents Peter and Lois; their children Meg, Chris, and Stewie; and their anthropomorphic pet dog Brian...

    episode "Not All Dogs Go to Heaven
    Not All Dogs Go to Heaven
    "Not All Dogs Go to Heaven" is the eleventh episode of the seventh season of the American animated television series Family Guy. It originally aired on Fox television network in the United States on March 29, 2009. The episode was directed by Greg Colton and written by Danny Smith...

    ", Meg takes Brian to the church to burn books on science and evolution, citing them as "harmful to God". Among the burnt books are "On the Origin of Species" by Charles Darwin
    Charles Darwin
    Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...

    , "A Brief History of Time
    A Brief History of Time
    A Brief History of Time is a popular science book written by renown physicist Stephen Hawking and first published by the Bantam Dell Publishing Group in 1988. It became a best-seller and has sold more than 10 million copies...

    ", by Stephen Hawking
    Stephen Hawking
    Stephen William Hawking, CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA is an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist, whose scientific books and public appearances have made him an academic celebrity...

    , and a fictional book entitled "Logic
    In philosophy, Logic is the formal systematic study of the principles of valid inference and correct reasoning. Logic is used in most intellectual activities, but is studied primarily in the disciplines of philosophy, mathematics, semantics, and computer science...

     for First Graders
    First grade
    First grade is a year of primary education in schools in the United States and English-speaking provinces of Canada. It is the first school year after kindergarten...

  • In a key scene of the film "Der alte und der junge König
    Der alte und der junge König
    Der alte und der junge König is a German historical film by Hans Steinhoff, made under Nazi rule in 1935....

    "(The Old and the Young King), a German Historical film made under Nazi rule in 1935, King Friedrich Wilhelm I
    Frederick William I of Prussia
    Frederick William I of the House of Hohenzollern, was the King in Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg from 1713 until his death...

     of Prussia is shown throwing into an open fire the beloved French-language books of his son, Crown Prince Friedrich (the future Friedrich II
    Frederick II of Prussia
    Frederick II was a King in Prussia and a King of Prussia from the Hohenzollern dynasty. In his role as a prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire, he was also Elector of Brandenburg. He was in personal union the sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuchâtel...

    ), as well as the Prince's flute. The film - banned after the fall of the Nazis as a piece of propaganda making manipulative use of history - presents this book burning as a positive and necessary act, which was needed in order to "educate" and "toughen up" the young prince, so as to "prepare him for becoming a great ruler".

See also

  • Banned books
  • Censorship
    thumb|[[Book burning]] following the [[1973 Chilean coup d'état|1973 coup]] that installed the [[Military government of Chile |Pinochet regime]] in Chile...

  • Destruction of libraries
    Destruction of Libraries
    This is a list of destroyed libraries that have been deliberately or accidentally destroyed or badly damaged. Sometimes libraries are purposely destroyed as a form of cultural cleansing...

  • List of book burning incidents
  • Library fires
    Library fires
    Library fires have happened sporadically through the centuries: notable examples are the destruction of the Library of Alexandria and the accidental burning of the Duchess Anna Amalia Library in Weimar...

  • Marc Drogin
    Marc Drogin
    Marc Drogin is an American writer and illustrator.-Biography:Drogin began work as a technical secretary, first at New York University, and then at Columbia University in New York City. His first drawings appeared as line fillers in New York’s The Village Voice in the 1950s...

  • Fahrenheit 451
    Fahrenheit 451
    Fahrenheit 451 is a 1953 dystopian novel by Ray Bradbury. The novel presents a future American society where reading is outlawed and firemen start fires to burn books...

  • 2010 Qur'an-burning controversy
    2010 Qur'an-burning controversy
    The Dove World Quran-burning controversy arose in July 2010, when Terry Jones, the pastor of the Christian Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, U.S., declared he would burn 200 Qurans on the 2010 anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Media coverage resulted in international...

External links

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