So emotive and potent is the image in fact that here Sisters in Islam recently protesting censorship of books had images of books being burned on posters and postcards ... even though books have never been physically burned by the authorities here!
Australian antiquarian bookseller Matthew Fishburn was so fascinated by the fiery subject as his topic for his PhD thesis, which has now been published as Burning Books, and he says in an interview with The Australian that there are many other reasons beside censorship why books get burned.
Simply getting around the problem of disposal for unwanted books, is one example. Or folks making a symbolic gesture that they have moved on with their lives, as these lads are doing :
We have also met on this blog the bookseller who is burning his own books as a cultural protest:
and the author who tried to burn his own novel (and who asked for another of his works to be burned posthumously.)
John Sutherland who reviews Fishburne's book in the Times and calls it a fascinating chronicle wonders whether book burning might be about to come to an end with the intervention of technology? :
In modern times, as Fishburn notes, book burning has faded from the scene. Partly it's the improved technology of pulping. Partly it's that Goebbels has given the practice a bad name. Partly it's obsolescence: how do you burn an e-text? How will some future Caliph Omar be able to destroy the great Google Library (some five million texts), available to us (at a price) later this year?If you want a taste of Burning Books do check out Fishburne's blog of the same name, there's some fascinating stuff here including illustrations that didn't make it into the book.