David Bradshaw and Rachel Potter (eds.)
Prudes on the prowl: fiction and obscenity in England, 1850 to the present day
Oxford Uiversity Pess, Oxford, 2013, 232 pp.
This innovative book comprises nine essays from leading scholars which investigate the relationship between fiction, censorship and the legal construction of obscenity in Britain between 1850 and the present day. Each of the chapters focuses on a distinct historical period and each has something new to say about the literary works it spotlights. Overall, the volume fundamentally refreshes our understanding of the way texts had to negotiate the moral and legal minefields of public reception. The book is original in the historical period it covers, starting in 1850 and bringing debates about fiction, obscenity and censorship up to the present day. The history that is uncovered reveals the different ways in which censorship functioned and continues to function, with considerations of Statutory definitions of Obscenity alongside the activities of non-government organisations such as the anti-vice societies, circulating libraries, publishers, printers and commentators. The essays in this book argue that the vigour with which novels were hunted down by the prowling prudes of the book's title encouraged some writers to explore sexual, excremental and moral obscenities with even more determination. Bringing such debates up to date, the book considers the ongoing impact of censorship on fiction and the current state of critical thinking about the status and freedom of literature. Given contemporary debates about the limits on freedom of speech in liberal, secular societies, the interrogation of these questions is both timely and necessary.
Notes on contributors
- troduction / Richael Potter
- Poison more deadly than prussic acid: defining obscenity after the 1857 Obscene Publications Act (1850-1885) / Katherine Mullin
- Pernicious literature: vigilance in the age of Zola (1886-1886) / Katherine Mullin
- Circulating morals (1900-1915) / Nicola Wilson
- Censorship and sovereignty (1916-1929) / Rachel Potter
- James Douglas: the sanitary inspector of literature / David Bradshaw
- After Jix (1930-1945) / Elisabeth Ladenson
- American beastliness, the great purge and its aftermath (1946-1959) / David Bradshaw ; Bollocks to respectability: British fiction after the trial of Lady Chatterley's Lover (1960-1970) / Rod Mengham
- The art of offence: British literary censorship since 1971 (1971-the present day) / Joe Brooker
David Bradshaw. Professor of English Literatura, College Worcester. Oxford Uiversity
Rachel Potter. Professor of Modern Literature, The University of East Anglia (UEA). Norwich.
Con carácter complementario, véase en relación a la literatura modernista americana (Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945), Sister Carrie; Willa Cather (1873-1947), Professor's house; William Faulkner (1897-1962), Sanctuary; Richard Wright (1908-1960), Native son) y en interés a la idea de “silence” como “negative narration”:
The Novel and the Obscene:Sexual subjects in American Modernism
Stanford University Press, United States, 2005, 167 pp.
We have tended to think of American literary modernism as participating in the culture s general rejection of prudery, and how else are we to read modernists forthright representations of sexual characters? The Novel and the Obscene challenges our vision of the era as sexually progressive by identifying a resonant silence at the heart of the modernist American novel. In spite of novelists efforts to represent sexuality explicitly, this silence (negative narration) reproduces censorship, rendering it symbolic at the moment of its legal demise. The Novel and the Obscene differs from current scholarship in law and literature, which positions law as the historical key that will unlock the ambiguous literary text. In examining the relation between obscene novels and sexual identity, The Novel and the Obscene instead illuminates the roles of both the novel and obscenity law in establishing sexual identity in American civic life.
Introduction: The Novel and the Symbolic: Sexual Logic in American Obscenity Law and Literature
Part I: Knowing 1 Guilty Reading: Stupidity and Sex in Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie
2 Ultimate Delicacy: Propriety and False Femininity in Willa Cather's The Professor's House
Part II: Seeing 3 Counting as Decent: Obscenity and Masculinity in William Faulkner's Sanctuary
4 A Gulf of Silence: Richard Wright's Native Son and Obscenity's Racial Demand
Appendix: Legal Cases