1934 August 7

Americans Can Finally Read “Ulysses”: Court Ends Ban


The Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld, by a 2–to–1 vote, the District Court decision by Judge John M. Woolsey on December 6, 1933, that James Joyce’s acclaimed novel Ulysses was not obscene. Ulysses is widely regarded as the greatest novel in the English language, and the decision on tihs day finally made it available to readers in the U.S. The case was aruged by Morris Ernst, one of the great civil liberties lawyers in the 20th century, as a pioneer on reproductive rights and a vigorous opponent of censorship. Ernst died on May 21, 1976.

Judge Woolsey: “Whether a particular book would tend to excite such impulses and thoughts must be tested by the Court’s opinion as to its effect on a person with average sex instincts — what the French would call “l’homme moyen sensuel” — who plays, in this branch of legal inquiry, the same role of hypothetical reagent as does the “reasonable man” in the law of torts and “the man learned in the art” on questions of invention in patent law.”

Read the full story of the legal problems of Ulysses: Kevin Birmingham, The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses (2014)

Read the greatest novel in the English Language: James Joyce, Ulysses. (Be sure to get the Random House edition that includes Justice John M. Woolsey’s District Court opinion in the case.)

Learn more at the James Joyce Centre: http://jamesjoyce.ie/

Learn more at Banned Books Week: http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/

Learn more about the trials of Ulysses: http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/ulysses/Ulysseslinks.html

Find a Day

Abortion Rights ACLU african-americans Alice Paul anti-communism Anti-Communist Hysteria Birth Control Brown v. Board of Education Censorship CIA Civil Rights Civil Rights Act of 1964 Cold War Espionage Act FBI First Amendment Fourteenth Amendment freedom of speech Free Speech Gay Rights Hate Speech homosexuality Hoover, J. Edgar HUAC Japanese American Internment King, Dr. Martin Luther Ku Klux Klan Labor Unions Lesbian and Gay Rights Loyalty Oaths McCarthy, Sen. Joe New York Times Obscenity Police Misconduct Same-Sex Marriage Separation of Church and State Sex Discrimination Smith Act Spying Spying on Americans Vietnam War Voting Rights Voting Rights Act of 1965 War on Terror Watergate White House Women's Rights Women's Suffrage World War I World War II Relocation Camps


Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions!