Cycnos | Volume 9 La censure aux Etats-Unis - | 1. Censure et roman 

Annexe : "Fiction and Censorship in the U.S.:A Chronology and a Bibliography"

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11821 John Cleland’s Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure is declared by a Massachussets court to be “wicked and obscene”.

21865 Congress passes the Postal Act, making it a crime to deposit an “obscene book or other publication of a vulgar and indecent character” in the U.S. mail.

31868 Lord Chief Justice Cockburn,  in Regina v. Hicklin,  lays  down what becomes known as the Hicklin rule as a test for obscenity. A publication is obscene if isolated passages, not the work taken as a whole, could deprave and corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences.

41873 Anthony Comstock founds and becomes secretary of the New York Society or the Suppression of Vice. Congress passes the so-called Comstock Act, making it a crime to deposit any “obscene, lewd, lascivious book or other publication of an indecent character” in the U.S. mails; the words “vile” and “filthy” are added in 1909.

51894 Anthony Comstock attempts to have several books (including Tom Jones and Ovid’s The Art of Love) declared obscene but is rejected by a New York court.

61913 Michael Kennerley is convicted of mailing an obscene book (Hagar Revelly), but Judge Hand remarks that the Hicklin Rule no longer reflects contemporary society and ought to be revised.

71922 A New York court rejects the claim of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice that Théophile Gautier’s Mademoiselle de Maupin is obscene; in so ruling the court discards the Hicklin Rule and announces that “no work may be judged from a selection of such [obscene] paragraphs alone.”

81929 A New York court rules the novel The Well of Loneliness to be obscene.

91933 Judge Woolsey rejects the Hicklin Rule as a test for obscenity regarding Ulysses and announces a Ulysses standard: Obscenity is to be determined by the effect of a book, read in its entirety, on a “homme moyen sensuel”.

101934 Tropic of Cancer is ruled obscene and its entry into the U.S. is prohibited.

111944 Lady Chatterley’s Lover is judged obscene by a New York court.

121948 The Supreme Court lets stand a 1947 New York decision that E.Wilson’s Memoirs of Hecate County (especially the short story “The Pincess with the Golden Hair”) is obscene.

131950 A Massachusetts court declares God’s Little Acre to be obscene and prohibits its sales in the state.

141957 In Butler v.Michigan the Supreme Court rules that the Michigan statute prohibiting the sale of any book “tending to the corruption of the morals of youth” is unconstitutional because “the incidence of this enactment is to reduce the adult population to reading what is only fit for children.”

15In Roth v. United States, the Supreme Court rules that obscenity is not protected speech or press and lays down a new standard, the Roth Standard, of obscenity: “whether to the average person, applying contemporary standards, the dominant theme of the material appeals to prurient interest.”

161960 Lady Chatterley’s Lover is judged not to be obscene.

171964 Tropics of Cancerr is judged not obscene by the Supreme Court (5 to 4).

181966 Fanny Hill is judged not obscene by the Supreme Court which lays down the Memoirs Standard as a test for obscenity. “Three elements must coalesce: it must be established that a) the dominant theme of the material taken as a whole appeals to prurient interest in sex; b) the material is patently offensive because it affronts contemporay community standards relating to the description of sexual matters; and c) the material is utterly without redeeming social value.”

19Naked Lunch declared not obscene by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

201970 The President’s Commission on Obscenity and Pornography issues its report recommending that all federal, state and local ordinances restricting the availability of explicit sexual material to consenting adults be repealed.

211973 In Miller v. California, the Supreme Court lays down the Miller Standard as a test of obscenity: “The basic guidelines must be: a) whether the average person, applying contemporary standards, would find that the work taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest; b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”

221982 In Board of Education v. Pico, the Supreme Court rules that the Board of Education of the Island Trees Union Free School District in New York cannot remove summarily from the school libraries a number of books thought to be anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, and just plainly filthy”; among them Slaughterhouse Five and The Fixer.

23Boyer, Paul S., Purity in Print: The Vice-Society Movement and Book Censorship in America, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1968.

24Burress, Lee, The Battle of the Books: Library Censorship in the Public Schools, 1950-1985, Metuchen, N.J.: The Scarecrow Press, 1988.

25Demac, Donna A., Liberty Denied. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1990.

26Downs, Robert B. and McCoy, Ralph E., eds., The First Freedom Today: Critical Issues Relating to Censorship and Intellectual Freedom, Chicago: American Library Association, 1984.

27Ford, Hugh, Published in Paris, New York: Collier Books, Macmillan, 1975.

28Goodman, Michel Barry, Contemporary Literary Censorship: The Case History of Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, Metuchen, N. J.: The Scarecrow Press, 1981.

29Hoffmann, Frank, Intellectual Freedom and Censorship: An Annotated Bibliography, Metuchen, N. J.: The Scarecrow Press, 1989.

30Hurwitz, Leon, Historical Dictionary of Censorship in the United States, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1985.

31Lewis, Felice Flanery, Literature, Obscenity, and Law, Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press, 1976.

32Macmillan, P. R., Censorship and Public Morality, Aldershot: Gower House, 1983.

33Oboler, Ellis P., The Fear of the World: Censorship and Sex, Metuchen, N. J.: The Scarecrow Press, 1974.

34—————, Defending Intellectual Freedom: The Library and the Censor, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1980.

35Rembar, Charles, The End of Obscenity: The Trials of Lady Chatterley, Tropic of Cancer, and Fanny Hill. New York: Random House, 1968.

36Rogers, Donald, Banned: Censorship in the Schools, New York: Messner/Simon and Schuster, 1988.

37Snyder, Gerald S., The Right to Be Informed: Censorship in the United States, New York: Julian Messner, 1976.

38Sutherland, John, Offensive Literature: Decensorship in Britain, 1960-1982, London: Junction Books, 1982.

39Tebbel, John, A History of Book Publishing in the United States, Vol IV, “The Great Change, 1940-1980”, New York, London: R. R. Bowker Co., 1981.

40Tribe, David, Questions of Censorship, New York: St. Martins Press, 1973.

41Woods, L. B. A., A Decade of Censorship in America: The Threat to Classrooms and Libraries, 1966-1975, Metuchen, N. J.: The Scarecrow Press, 1979.

Pour citer cet article

« Annexe : "Fiction and Censorship in the U.S.:A Chronology and a Bibliography" », paru dans Cycnos, Volume 9, mis en ligne le 10 juin 2008, URL : http://revel.unice.fr/cycnos/index.html?id=1197.


Directeurs de la publication

Maurice Couturier