Fill-in-the-Blank on the Filthiest Passages in Literature (According to Book Banners)

We have put you in the writer’s seat with some of the “steamiest” passages in literature.

Book banners don’t want you to read objectionable words, right? In the spirit of literary freedom, we have put you in the writer’s seat with some of the “steamiest” passages in literature. You’ll notice the absence of body parts, adjectives, and all kinds of other markers that make these passages “inappropriate,” according to book banners. We have, however, left some hints to steer you through the original passages. Now, pick your nouns and body parts, and start revising banned literature, from Madame Bovary to Last Exit to Brooklyn. (Thanks, censorship!)

Candy by Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg


Body part hint: Let’s just say the original passage sounded like the chorus of a certain Black Eyed Peas song. Imagine Quasimodo Tinder-matched with someone who wanted to (literally) take the weight off his shoulders.

Candy was first published in France in 1958, then immediately banned. The racy novel, which echoes Voltaire’s scandalous classic Candide, became a chart-topping bestseller in the United States.

The Bastard by John Jakes


Hold on to your bodices, ladies. This is as erotic as it gets in the 1770s. Jakes’s colorful language in The Bastard led to its subsequent banning by a Pennsylvania high school.

Fear of Flying by Erica Jong


Verb hint: You don’t need a man for this passage. Like, at all. Like, he would just get in the way.

When Jong received a $5,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for Fear of Flying, Senator Jesse Helms bombarded the NEA with complaints, saying that they were funding a “filthy, obscene book.”

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert


Next time you want to give your lover a thrill, tell him/her to meet you behind the poplars on the outskirts of town. It’s not really the choice of words that made this work controversial, but Flaubert’s refusal to condemn his adulterous heroine resulted in a trial on charges of obscenity in 1857.

Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby, Jr.


Verb hint: The main character is an experienced prostitute that can smoke a cigarette in any position … I mean, any position.

Selby’s unapologetic portrayal of prostitutes and drug-addled toughs in Brooklyn made his novel the focus of an important obscenity trial in the United Kingdom.

The Werewolf of Paris by Guy Endore


The erotic, openly sexual elements in this classic werewolf novel led to its being banned in Australia in 1952.

The Group by Mary McCarthy


Often referred to as “the original Sex and the City,” The Group was a phenomenon when it was first published in 1963. The book was banned in Australia, Italy, and Ireland, according to Vanity Fair.

A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter


Hint: Think about the craziest sex you’ve ever had, then multiply that by 10, then fill this in.

The scandalous scenes in Salter’s novel were too much for publishers to handle. Several turned down his work about an American expat’s affair with a young French woman.

Citizen Tom Paine by Howard Fast


Behold: the sexiest scene in the entire novel. In 1947, this historical fiction was banned in New York public schools for supposed “vulgar scenes.” There are no words to replace, because there is actually nothing racy. Sorry, book banners!

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