Document Type


Passed with distinction


Publication Date

Spring 4-20-2018


Intellectual freedom is a right that has been both vehemently contested and passionately defended in library literature. One of the more salient questions is whether librarians should include “false” or “harmful” information in their collections, with responses to this question ranging from the need to protect all forms of speech to the view that some items are too dangerous or harmful not to be censored. The question becomes even trickier with the introduction of immoral fiction. Analyses of an historical and a modern example of this ethical debate, in the form of the contested novels Eugene Aram, by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, and The Kindly Ones, by Jonathan Littell, provide useful insight into how people believed immoral works would be harmful (or, in Bulwer-Lytton’s perspective, vitally beneficial) to the morality of readers in the 1830s, and how such perspectives can provide insight into today’s debates on the effects of immoral literature.


intellectual freedom, immoral fiction, Eugene Aram, Kindly Ones


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Copyright © 2018 Paije Wee