Suppressed Books: A History of the Conception of Literary Obscenity

Suppressed Books: A History of the Conception of Literary Obscenity

Suppressed Books: A History of the Conception of Literary Obscenity

Suppressed Books: A History of the Conception of Literary Obscenity

Excerpt

The subject of this book is the conception of literary obscenity as found in law and practice and its cultural and social effects. My primary concern is the restraint which the conception exercises on serious literature and consequently on intellectual freedom and artistic creation. In surveying this subject I have devoted the greatest space to England because that is the country which first developed a law of libel to fill the vacuum created by the abolition of direct censorship by Church or State authorities. So much of past history (including material from my The Banned Books of England and Above all Liberties) is given as is necessary to a proper understanding of the present position, and important information not readily accessible elsewhere is given in some detail. The purview of the book is extended to include America, France, and other parts of the world where the freedom of the press has traditionally been held in esteem and is relied upon as an instrument of intellectual and social well-being.

The bibliography is intended to stand on its own as a fairly complete preliminary guide to the subject. The treatment of individuals in the body of the book will be found to be supported by the items given in Part VII of the bibliography. The notes are mainly confined to authorities outside the scope of the bibliography and to references to specific statements and quotations.

I thankfully acknowledge the help I have received from the officials of the British Museum throughout the quarter of a century during which I have used the library for the investigations into this subject. My gratitude is also due to Dr. E. J. Dingwall, Mr. George Legman, Dr. Maurice Parmelee, and Mr. W. H. W. Sabine for supplying me with information and answering my queries; and to Mr. R. S. W. Pollard for legal guidance.

ALEC CRAIG

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