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

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