Thursday, August 25, 2005

Literature Suppressed on Sexual Grounds

Same basic disclaimer as last time. There's an old saying: prudes have an advantage over perverts--a woman can only take it off down to her skin but there's no limit to how far a prude would want her to cover up.

An American Tragedy, Theodore Dreiser (1925)
Conservative: Banned in Boston for being "obscene, indecent, and impure" (a woman begins to take her clothes off in front of a man)

Arabian Nights (basis for Disney's Aladdin) (English translation 1881)
Conservative: British and American prudes, one of which called it, "an extraordinary agglomeration of filth."

The Art of Love (Ars Amatoria), Ovid [Latin love poems] (A.D. 1)
Conservative: Emperor Augustus, the Catholic Index, the U.S. Customs Office

The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison (1970)
Conservative: "vulgar" and "obscene" language

Candide (1759)
Conservative: Catholic church, especially in France ("godless and sacrilegious, and as tending to undermine morals"). In 1928, U.S. Customs seized a shipment of books intended for Harvard, an action upheld by the U.S. government

Confession, Rousseau (1884)
Conservative: the Vatican, ultra-prude Anthony Comstock attempted to ban the book in the U.S. in 1892; banned by U.S. Customs in 1929 but rescinded the ban a year later (sexual content)

The Decameron (14th century)
Conservative: the Vatican; the Boston Watch and Ward Society in 1903; ruled as an "obscene, lewd and lascivious book of indecent character" by a Cincinnati court in 1906. (for sexual humor, mockery of religion and the clergy)

Fanny Hill, John Cleland (1748)
Conservative: British government (1749); Massachusetts (1930); NYC in 1963; New Zealand (1965); Justice Thomas C. Clark of the U.S. Supreme Court wrote in 1966, "The pubic hair is often used for a background to the most vivid and precise description of the response, condition, size, shape, and color of the sexual organs before, during and after orgasms."

Forever, Judy Blume (1975)
Conservative: Various school challenges; described as "pornography and explores areas God didn't intend to explore outside of marriage," and "does not promote the sanctity of family life."

Forever Amber, Kathleen Winsor (1944)
Conservative: the U.S. Post Office (1946) banned distribution by mail; Massachusetts (1948); New Zealand (1952): "70 references to sexual intercourse; 39 to illegitimate pregnancies; 7 to abortions; 10 descriptions of women undressing, dressing or bathing in the presence of men; 5 references to incest; 13 references ridiculing marriage; and 49 miscellaneous objectionable passages."

The Goats, Brock Cole (young adult novel, 1987)
Conservative: School officials and parents for sexual content (although none exists in the book)

The Group, Mary McCarthy (novel, 1963)
Conservative: Banned in Ireland (1964) for "sexuality, suggestions of homosexuality, and ‘promiscuity'"; New Zealand (1964)

It's Perfectly Normal, Robie H. Harris (sex ed book, 1994)
Conservative: School officials, parents, religious groups, Republican Leadership Council; challenged and restricted in various U.S. public libraries and schools because it "promotes homosexuality and abortion," "tries to steer the child toward being pro-homosexual or at least neutral."
The leader of the Republican Leadership Council said that people who defend the book "are [the] same people who spat on us when we came home from Vietnam [and] who will cry over their dead son's or daughter's casket because some child molester thought it was perfectly normal to molest their child."

Jude the Obscure (1895)
Conservative: Religious and public figures including Bishop How of Wakefield who publicly burnt it; literary figures including his publisher who heavily edited the original story to protect sales; described as "grimy," "steeped in sex," "foul in detail."
The reaction to the novel caused Hardy to stop writing fiction; he lived for another 33 years but never produced another novel.

The Kama Sutra
Conservative: English and American prudes, including the work's printers who refused to complete it

Lady Chatterley's Lover (1928)
Conservative: English and American prudes including the Boston Watch and Ward Society and New York Society for the Suppression of Vice. An English prosecutor asked his jury, "Is it a book that you would have lying around your house? Is it a book that you would even wish your wife or your servants to read?"

Lolita (1955)
Conservative: American, New Zealand, South African, French (both Fourth and Fifth Republics), Argentinean, and British prudes ("sheer unrestrained pornography"

Madame Bovary (1857)
Conservative: French; English; the National Vigilance Association; the Catholic newspaper, the Tablet; objections were in part because it first appeared in a magazine with liberal politics.

Memoirs of Hecate County, Edmund Wilson (short stories, 1946)
Conservative: American and British prudes including the New York Society for the Improvements of Morals; book sellers arrested in NYC and San Francisco.

Raymond Chandler said that the book "made fornication as dull as a railroad time table."

Moll Flanders (1722)
Conservative: British (18th and 19th century); American (up until 1929).

Outlaw Representation: Censorship and Homosexuality in Twentieth Century American Art, Richard Meyer (Nonfiction about censorship of gay artists, 2002)
Conservative: Virtually only British, upset over one of Robert Mapplethorpe's naked child photo.

Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded, Samuel Richardson (1740)
Conservative: Catholic Index (1744), various British and American

Peyton Place, Grace Metalious (1956)
Conservative: banned in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1957 (ruled unconstitutional); banned in Ireland in 1958; opposed by the Rhode Island Commission to Encourage Morality in Youth

Rabbit, Run, John Updike (1960)
Conservative: Ireland (banned in 1962); various American high schools

Sanctuary, Faulkner (1931)
Conservative: brought to trial as obscene in Philadelphia County; after Faulkner won the Nobel Prize for Literature, banned in Ireland; placed on the National Organization of Decent Literature's "Disapproved List."

Snow Falling on Cedars, David Guterson (1994)
Conservative: Banned in Texas and Washington school districts for profanity after student complaints (one student admitted to The Spokane Spokesman Review that students only complained because the novel was 460 pages long.)

Sophie's Choice, William Styron (1979)
Conservative: Banned from California school district for sexual content and profanity

Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller (1934)
Conservative: Banned in the U.S. for 30 years after publication

Ulysses (1918)
Conservative: U.S. Post Office (burnt 500 confiscated copies in 1922); finally judged acceptable by Judge John M. Woolsey in 1934

Women in Love, D.H. Lawrence (1920)
Conservative: Various American and British, including Supreme Court Justice John Ford who tried to restrict the book after his daughter read it; Ford founded the Clean Books League to combat obscene books

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