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Tag: censorship

Rachel Potter. Obscene Modernism: Literary Censorship and Experiment 1900-1940

Rachel Potter. Obscene Modernism: Literary Censorship and Experiment 1900-1940. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. 231p. ISBN 9780199680986. £55.00 (hardback).

Why was Ulysses deemed obscene? Why was The Rainbow banned? What was offensive about Boy or The Well of Loneliness? Why did so many modernist writers get into trouble with the law, in Britain and in the USA? Why, in 1923, in an orgy of righteousness, was the entire cast of a Broadway play arrested and prosecuted for obscenity? What was it about Anglo-American society that reacted so viscerally and vehemently to mention of sex or shit?

Rachel Potter’s consistently interesting and illuminating book sets out to show why and how this could happen.

Robert Darnton. Censors at Work: How States Shaped Literature

Robert Darnton. Censors at Work: How States Shaped Literature. London: The British Library, 2014. The Panizzi Lectures 2013. 316 p., ill. ISBN 9780712357616. £25.00 (hardcover).

This excellent book represents a peak in Robert Darnton’s long-term research and should indeed become compulsory reading for all those interested in censorship and, more generally, mechanisms of control in the age of print. Darnton takes the reader on an exciting voyage through censorship as exerted by three authoritarian systems in three different centuries: eighteenth-century France, the British Raj, and Communist East Germany. Instead of starting from definitions, he provides subtle “ethnographic” insights into day-to-day censorial practices.

Gill Partington and Adam Smyth, eds. Book Destruction from the Medieval to the Contemporary

Gill Partington and Adam Smyth, eds. Book Destruction from the Medieval to the Contemporary. New Directions in Book History. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. xi, 216p., ill. ISBN 9781137367655. £58 / US $95 (hardback).

This lively book helps inaugurate Palgrave’s series New Directions in Book History, the raison d’être of which is to publish “monographs that employ advanced methods and open up new frontiers in research” (i). Rather than showcase an innovative methodology or rethink a hackneyed subject area, Gill Partington and Adam Smyth broach a neglected topic, suggesting that squeamishness about book destruction has hindered the study of a range of artistic, literary and cultural practices.

Jesús A. Martínez Martín, ed. Historia de la edición en España 1939-1975

Jesús A. Martínez Martín (ed.). Historia de la edición en España 1939-1975. Madrid: Marcial Pons, 2015. 997p., ill. ISBN 9788415963554. EUR 42.00 (hardback).

Historia de la edición en España 1939-1975 is the second volume of the history of publishing in Spain edited by Jesús A. Martínez Martín. The first volume was published in 2001 by the same publisher, and covered the period from 1836 to just before when the Spanish Civil War began in 1936. However, as the editor notes in his introduction, the scope of this second volume is much more ambitious than that of the first, despite sharing the same methods and covering a much shorter period, the 36 years of Franco’s dictatorship.