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Sep 26 16 9:49 AM
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Sep 26 16 10:38 AM
Custodian of Castle Anthrax
For as long as there have been writers, there have been texts that have
been challenged, censored, burned, and banned. The stories of banned
literature do not just belong in the history books; even today, some of
the most influential texts in our bookstores and libraries are currently
being challenged or have been challenged at some point before. Here we
take a look at fifteen significant poems, poetry collections, and poets
that have been censored and banned throughout history. Find out more
about these books and others during Banned Books Week, September 25 to October 1, 2016.
As soon as Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du mal was published in June
of 1857, thirteen of its 100 poems were arraigned for inappropriate
content. On August 20, 1857, French lawyer Ernest Pinard, who had also
famously prosecuted French author Gustave Flaubert, prosecuted
Baudelaire for the collection.
The court banned six of the erotic poems: “Lesbos,” “Femmes damnés,” Le
Léthé,” “À celle qui est trop gaie,” “Les Bijoux,” and “Les
Métamorphoses du Vampire.” The offensiveness of the texts, the court
held, lay not only in their context, but also in their “realism.”
According to the judges, the poems “necessarily lead to the excitement
of the senses by a crude realism offensive to public decency.”
In 1873, Anthony
Comstock, founder of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice,
achieved a federal bill that banned the mailing of “every obscene, lewd,
lascivious or filthy book, pamphlet, picture, paper, letter writing,
print or other publication of an indecent character.” The Comstock Act,
officially known as the Federal Anti-Obscenity Act, banned many world
classics, including Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, for its sexual content.
Howl and Other Poems
was then published on November 1, 1956, as part of the City Lights
Pocket Poets Series. With its long, winding lines; profane language; and
frank, racy content about drug use and sexuality, Howl was deemed obscene and Ferlinghetti was arrested and taken to court.
In the case of People of California v. Lawrence Ferlinghetti,
on October 3, 1957, Judge Clayton W. Horn ruled that Ferlinghetti was
not guilty. The defense included reviews praising the collection and the
analysis of nine literary experts, all of whom agreed that the work had
“literary merit, that it represented a sincere effort by the author to
present a social picture, and that the language used was relevant to the
Lawrence, who wrote poetry from 1905 until
his death in 1930, struggled to get his poems into print, especially
after the controversy surrounding his other published works of the time.
It wasn’t until decades later that Lawrence’s works began to be
published in their entirety.
Molly say:So keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget
to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be
outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that
freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and
celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who
come after how much fun it was.
The Out Campaign
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