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Celebrating banned books week

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Book banning is not a new phenomenon. The Catholic Church’s prohibition on books advocating heliocentrism lasted until 1758. In England, Thomas Bowdler lent his name to the practice of expurgating supposed vulgarity with the 1818 publication of The Family Shakespeare, edited by his sister. In the US, the nineteenth century anti-vice activist Anthony Comstock enforced laws aimed at suppressing materials that were “obscene, lewd, or lascivious.” Included in that category were anatomy textbooks and materials on birth control. Among those indicted was Margaret Sanger, whose 1914 newspaper The Woman Rebel was deemed obscene. Later attempts at book banning were directed at the likes of James Joyce’s Ulysses and D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover. In 1933, Judge John M. Woolsey overturned a federal ban of Ulysses, which had been in effect since 1922. Woolsey concluded that the book, while not to his liking, was serious art.  Lawrence’s novel, banned in England, was published by an Italian publisher in 1928, and three decades later printed in the US by the Grove Press. Grove successfully defended the work in federal court in 1959, arguing that works could be both obscene and have redeeming social value. By 1964, the Supreme Court would agree in another Grove Press case involving Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer. By the end of the 1960s, a presidential Commission on Obscenity and Pornography, established by Lyndon Johnson, issued a controversial report concluding that “Federal, State, and Local legislation prohibiting the sale, exhibition, or distribution of sexual materials to consenting adults should be repealed.” The report was rejected by Congress. By the end of the 1960s, a presidential Commission on Obscenity and Pornography, established by Lyndon Johnson, issued a controversial report concluding that “Federal, State, and Local legislation prohibiting the sale, exhibition, or distribution of sexual materials to consenting. . .

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News source: Linguistics – OUPblog

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