Thursday, September 29, 2005

Norwood, Colorado parents recently burned copies of Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima after having them pulled from the area high school’s curriculum. Millie Davis, of the National Council of Teachers of English, said “I’m flabbergasted that something like this would be happening in this day and age”. The Hispanic coming-of-age story is commonly included as part of high school curriculums, and won the Premio Quinto Sol national Chicano literary award. The novel explores some minority religious views such as paganism.

The Colorado parents who burned the copies claim they “mainly” object to some profanity in the novel. Rudolfo Anaya, a professor emeritus of English at the University of New Mexico, said “The book should be judged in its entirety. There is some strong language in strong situations, but there is no flippant use of profanity.”

“Bless Me, Ultima” has survived a challenge in New York without being banned, or indeed, burned. It came in 75th on the American Library Association’s list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2000. By comparison, the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh positions are occupied by Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War, Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, respectively.