Challenged and temporarily banned in the US for its sexual content. Ban overturned in United States v. One Book Called Ulysses.
Published in 1918, James Joyce's Ulysses was banned on sexual grounds. Leopold Bloom sees a woman on the seashore, and his actions during that event have been considered controversial. Also, Bloom thinks about his wife's affair, as he walks through Dublin, Ireland on a famous day (we now know it as Bloomsday). In 1922, 500 copies of the book were burned by the United States Department of the Post Office.
Burned in the U.S. (1918),Ireland (1922), Canada (1922), England (1923)and banned in England (1929). Source: 3, p. 66; 5, pp. 328-30; 10, Vol.III,pp. 411-12; 557-58, 645.
Burned in the U.S. (1918), Ireland (1922), Canada (1922), England (1923) and banned in England (1929).
Burned in the U.S. (1918), Ireland (1922), Canada (1922), England (1923) and banned in England (1929). Source: 3, p. 66; 5, pp. 328-30; 10, Vol. III, pp. 411-12; 557-58, 645.
The story of Leopold Bloom’s struggle to come to terms with his wife Molly’s promiscuity includes scenes of masturbation and other imagery, and the novel closes with a 50-page rant from Molly describing her sexual history and carnal desires.
In 1920, after a U.S.magazine printed a passage of the book dealing with the main character masturbating, a group called the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, objected to the book’s content and took legal action to keep the book out of the United States. At a trial in 1921 a passage from it that was printed in a magazine was declared obscene and Ulysses was banned in the United States. Two women, Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap, were found guilty of obscenity at the trial and fined $50 each for “corrupting the public morals.”
Throughout the 1920’s copies of the book were burned in the U.S. (1918), Ireland (1922), Canada (1922), England (1923); and officially banned in England (1929-1947).
The ACLU filed suit in the famous 1933 case, United States v. One Book Called Ulysses, and won when U.S. District Judge John M. Woolsey ruled on December 6, 1933 that the book was not pornographic and therefore could not be obscene. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling in 1934.
It wasn’t until that landmark censorship ruling, a decade after its publication, that the book legally debut in the U. S. The ruling stated that the novel successfully portrayed each character’s “stream of consciousness with its ever-shifting kaleidoscopic impressions.”
Social mores about sex may have relaxed in the years since, but Ulysses remains at the top of book banning lists, coming in at number 6 on the ALA’s list of the 100 most-challenged classics.
Noteworthy actions against Ulysses didn’t just end in the 1930’s, though. While the courts decided long ago that there wasn’t anything illegal in its lustful narrative, Apple had other ideas in 2010 when it decided that the digital comic adaption was unsuitable for sale in the App Store because it contained depictions of nude scenes.
The Apple Store has always danced the line of contradictions and double standards when it comes to apps, music, and movies. Never mind that they aren’t required to ban such material, it’s available to view through their own web browser. So a digital graphic novel adaption of Ulysses is bad, but anyone with access to the store can download the unedited and uncensored version of Scarface without as much as a pop up warning. Yeah, that makes sense.
Maybe there will come a day where books are no longer banned because of the illogical and ideological rhetoric of the closed-minded. On that day there will no longer be a need for the Banned Books Awareness and Reading for Knowledge project. Until that day, however, don’t just celebrate your First amendment right- practice it and read a book- any book- and maybe even a banned book or two.
James Joyce’s “Ulysses” has been banned in the United States since the 1920s, and covered here last February; Apple continues the trend by censoring the comic book adaptation because the comic contains nudity. They demanded that the nudity and “pornographic” content be removed before it could be made available as an iBook. The authors complied with the request and edited the images; however, they did say that “it was a take it or leave it kind of thing. [They] got the sense there wasn’t a lot of room for bargaining.” Apple has issued an apology and now allows for the original comic to be distributed on Apple products, free of censorship.
Written over a seven-year period from 1914 to 1921, the novel was serialised in the American journal The Little Review from 1918 to 1920, when the publication of the Nausicaä episode led to a prosecution for obscenity. In 1919, sections of the novel also appeared in the London literary journal, The Egoist, but the novel itself was banned in the United Kingdom until the 1930s. The novel was first published in its entirety by Sylvia Beach in February 1922, in Paris.
The 1920 prosecution in the US was brought after The Little Review serialised a passage of the book dealing with the main character masturbating. Legal historian Edward de Grazia has argued that few readers would have been fully aware of the orgasmic experience in the text, given the metaphoric language. Irene Gammel extends this argument to suggest that the obscenity allegations brought against The Little Review were influenced by the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven's more explicit poetry, which had appeared alongside the serialization of Ulysses. The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, which objected to the book's content, took action to attempt to keep the book out of the United States. At a trial in 1921 the magazine was declared obscene and, as a result, Ulysses was effectively banned in the United States. Throughout the 1920s, the United States Post Office Department burned copies of the novel.
In 1933, the publisher Random House and lawyer Morris Ernst arranged to import the French edition and have a copy seized by customs when the ship was unloaded, which it then contested. In United States v. One Book Called Ulysses, U.S. District Judge John M. Woolsey ruled on 6 December 1933 that the book was not pornographic and therefore could not be obscene, a decision that was called "epoch-making" by Stuart Gilbert. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling in 1934. The US therefore became the first English-speaking country where the book was freely available. Although Ulysses was never banned in Ireland, neither was it available there