1922 February 2

James Joyce’s “Ulysses” Published, Faces Immediate Censorship


James Joyce’s Ulysses, generally regarded as the greatest English language novel, was published today in Paris. The novel was published by Sylvia Beach, owner of what became the famous book story Shakespeare and Company.

Ulysses faced a long history of censorship. When the American literary magazine The Little Review published excerpts from the novel between 1918 and 1921, the editors Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap and were prosecuted for obscenity in New York City. They were convicted on February 14, 1921 and fined $10 (which a wealthy benefactor from Chicago paid). The novel was subsequently banned in the United States. Samuel Roth published a bootleg edition in the 1920s. Roth was a notorious outlaw publisher, who was the subject of the major Supreme Court decision on obscenity, Roth v. United States on June24, 1957.

Ulysses was finally declared not obscene in the United States in a landmark District Court decision, United States v. One Book Called Ulysses,  on December 6, 1933.

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 classic novel: James Joyce, Ulysses (Find an edition that contains Judge Woolsey’s opinion)

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