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In the 1940s, it was forbidden by state law to teach Walt Whitman in the schools of Maine; "and still is so far as I know," reports Carl Morse in New Censors: Publishing Today, the latest issue of Index on Censorship (pounds 7.99). It's not just third-world dictatorships and theocracies that ban books, as the exemplary Index shows. Morse is asked to write on poetry for a "wonderfully lucrative" ninth-grade set text: "Half the poets printed in these textbooks were sex-crazed, state-and-cop-hating alkies and crackheads who went insane or poisoned, hanged and shot themselves," Morse notes, but you'd never guess it from the chosen poems.

People For The American Way report on attempts to remove books from school curricula; high on the list is I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: "bitterness and hatred against whites ... a lurid tale of sexual perversion". Huck Finn too: "racial slurs ... bad grammar ... does not reject slavery".

Elsewhere, Indian customs officials intercepted Louisa May Alcott's Little Women on suspicion of "unnatural sex", George Bataille's works are censored in Spain, Oscar Wilde still has problems in Russia, and Ireland's censorship board is much mocked for vetoing Barbara Cartland's Marriage for Moderns and Upton Sinclair's The Book of Love, presumably on the basis of their titles rather than their content.

New Censors includes articles by Czeslaw Milosz, Nadine Gordimer, Alexandr Zinoviev and many others.

! Index on Censorship: 0171 278 1878