Sunday, 26 December 2010


Writers: Morris L. Ernst & Alan U. Schwartz
Τitle: Censorship
Subtitle: The Search for the Obscene
Introduction: Philip Scharper
Foreword: Morris L. Ernst & Alan U. Schwartz
Language: English
Edition: First Printing
Place of Publication: New York & London
Publisher: The Macmillan Company / Collier-Macmillan Company
Year of Publication: 1964
Format: 1451x216mm
Pages: xvi+288; Index, 277
Jacket Design: Rupert J. Finegold
Binding: Boards in duotone dust jacket
Weight: 465gr.
Entry No.: 2009059
Entry Date: 2nd October 2009


For reader and writer, film-maker and theater-goer- for everyone concerned in the field of cummunications –here is a cogent, up-to-date account of the centuries-long battle between freedom of expression and the watchdogs of public morality.

In crisp, nonlegal language, Censorship details the history of what, in law, has been considered obscene, pornographic, prurient, indecent, and “dirty.” From “notorious” novels to naturalistic movies, from sex education for juveniles to sex magazines for adults –all phases of the controversial field are covered. The role of censorship-official and private –is documented in terms of actual cases, briefs, and judicial decisions.

Following a survey of ancient societies that reveals the relationship of sexual mores to economic and political necessities, the authors describe the development of the protestant ethic in the United States. They demonstrate the essentially aristocratic attitude of the Framers of the Constitution toward the First Amendment, and show how the rise of universal education and literacy was accompanied by growing legislative concern with obscenity.

Focusing on the last century and a half in American and England, the authors highlight the career of the psychopathic grocery clerk Anthony Comstock as an enemy of “vice” in the United States –and the parallel activities of Sir Alexander Cockburn, Britain’s Lord Chief Justice. They describe the lengths to which the “hunt” for obscenity went. Targets ranged from classics such as Payne’s Arabian Nights and Gautier’s Mademoiselle de Maupin to the little-known Hagar Revelly, a novel whose claim to fame is that with Justice Learned Hand’s decision, it began a revolution in judicial thought.

The Ulysses case is presented in detail, as are those of Schnitzler’s Casanova’s Homecoming, Radclyffe Halls The West of Loneliness, Lillian Smith’s Strange Fruit, and D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover. The activities of the Unites States Post Office and Treasury Department as de facto censors are described, as is the craven self-censorship of the motion-picture industry.

Writing from the point of view that the best censorship is the least censorship, the authors bring their survey up to date with a revealing book at the extralegal forms censorship is taking today. The second volume in the distinguished Milestones of Law series written for general readers, Censorship is packed with intellectual fuel for thoughtful nonlawyers on a subject of national concern.

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