Writer: Richard H. Kuh
Τitle: Foolish Figleaves?
Subtitle: Pornography in –and out –of court
Foreword: Richard H. Kuh
Edition: First Printing
Place of Publication: New York & London
Publisher: The Macmillan Company / Collier-Macmillan Ltd.
Year of Publication: 1967
Pages: xi+368; notes, 335; index, 359
Binding: Cloth in duotone dust jacket
Original price: USD 7.95
Entry No. 2010002
Entry Date: 23rd March 2010
Against the setting of today’s swiftly changing sexual mores, Foolish Figleaves? gives an incisive–and lively–view of pornography and the fantastic confusion engulfing efforts to restrain it. The book’s reasoned valuation of the pros and cons of censorship is antidoctrinaire: it questions alike the stridence of the bluenoses and the extremism of self-proclaimed liberals.
Mr. Kuh brings to his writing a felicity of expression, a wealth of apt quotations from Plato to Malcolm Muggeridge, and a delightful wit. As a sample, in describing Eros publisher Ralph Ginzburg’s “mastery of reverse bowdlerizing” of the classics, he writes” “censor-fashion. He had gone leap-frogging through these works, hunting for passages dealing with sex and sensuality, substituting, however, the anthologist’s shears and pastepot for the censor’s blue pencil.” Noting that antiobscenity enforcement features “all the busy confusion of a Mack Sennett comedy, with black-robed judges–Keystone Cop-fashion–dashing off simultaneously in all directions,” Mr. Kuh covers the key legal cases, from the pivotal appeal of Sam Roth (“proud of his frequent martyrdom in the financially prosperous cause of free speech”) to the highly publicized Lenny Bruce and Ralph Ginzburg affairs. Even in these two cases most of the material in the book will be new not only to the general reader but to lawyers, since no “family” newspaper or magazine was able to print the obscenities involved, and even the legal journals shied away from frank coverage. The Lenny Bruce trial combined humor, graphic sexuality, and the ridiculous, featuring a bravura performance by poet Allen Ginsberg and a comically revealing cross-examination of the late Dorothy Kilgallen. The shilly-shallying silence of outspoken critics when called upon for direct participation–names are named–is also seen in its more amusing, if disconcerting, aspects.
Foolish Figleaves? embraces every area of pornography today–including happenings, toplessness, erotic sculpture, avant garde and stag movies, nudist magazines, and banned books –and underscores the difficulties of definition that beset the carrying out of justice. In this amusing and thoughtful book, Mr. Kuh offers sane, well-reasoned, and helpful proposals for moderate action that bypass traditional solutions and will not fail to interest both the thoughtful libertarian and the troubled censor, as well as parents, community-minded citizens, lawyers and judges.