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Book review:. The most dangerous book: The battle for James Joyce's Ulysses

journal contribution
posted on 2014-12-01, 00:00 authored by Frances Devlin-Glass
Birmingham, a literary historian from Harvard, tells, in much greater detail than ever before, the story of the banning of what is arguably the most important and transformative literary text ever. For it to be in our hands and read openly is for it to have changed the conditions under which reading occurs in the western world, changed definitions of obscenity, and challenged the secrecy which was the stock-in-trade of the purity-snoopers, both vigilante and state-sanctioned. Joyce’s fiction was burned, guillotined, confiscated, had printer’s plates wrecked and whole editions pulped, was smuggled across borders, carried in corsets, was extensively and ‘legally’ pirated in the US. The story of its surveillance is a gripping one, and the book a page-turner, and moreover to tell the story is to explain how literary modernism became mainstream, and not the just preserve of marginalised avant-garde bohemians.

History

Journal

Australasian journal of Irish studies

Volume

14

Pagination

142 - 146

Publisher

Murdoch University, Centre for Irish Studies

Location

Murdoch, W.A.

ISSN

1837-1094

Language

eng

Publication classification

X Not reportable; C4 Letter or note

Copyright notice

2014, Murdoch University, Centre for Irish Studies

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