The Most Dangerous Book

The Most Dangerous Book

The Battle For James Joyce's Ulysses

Book - 2014
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"For more than a decade, the book that literary critics now consider the most important novel in the English language was illegal to own, sell, advertise or purchase in most of the English-speaking world. James Joyce's big blue book, Ulysses, ushered in the modernist era and changed the novel for all time. But the genius of Ulysses was also its danger: it omitted absolutely nothing. All of the minutiae of Leopold Bloom's day, including its unspeakable details, unfold with careful precision in its pages. The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice immediately banned the novel as 'obscene, lewd, and lascivious.' Joyce, along with some of the most important publishers and writers of his era, had to fight for years to win the freedom to publish it. The remarkable story surrounding Ulysses, from the first stirrings of Joyce's inspiration in 1904 to its landmark federal obscenity trial in 1933. Kevin Birmingham follows Joyce's years as a young writer, his feverish work on his literary masterpiece, and his ardent love affair with Nora Barnacle, the model for Molly Bloom. Joyce and Nora socialized with literary greats like Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, T. S. Eliot and Sylvia Beach. Their support helped Joyce fight an array of anti-vice crusaders while his book was disguised and smuggled, pirated and burned in the United States and Britain. The long struggle for publication added to the growing pressures of Joyce's deteriorating eyesight, finances and home life. The case ultimately rested on the literary merit of Joyce's master work. The sixty-year-old judicial practices governing obscenity in the United States were overturned because a federal judge could get inside Molly Bloom's head. Birmingham's archival work brings to light new information about both Joyce and the story surrounding Ulysses. A gripping examination of how the world came to say yes to Ulysses"--Inside cover.
Publisher: New York : The Penguin Press, 2014.
ISBN: 9781594203367
Characteristics: 417 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm.


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WCLSFerndaleLibrary Jul 06, 2015

I just finished reading The Most Dangerous Book: the Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses by Kevin Birmingham. I love this period of literary history and given that Ulysses often makes the top novels of all time - often at number one - this fascinating book testifies to the book's impact on the making of our modern world. ~Krista

manoush Jun 01, 2015

What a masterful work. This completely absorbing, exceptionally well-executed book tells the amazing story of how James Joyce's Ulysses "transformed from an insurgency to an institution." Birmingham's book is a life history of a novel, not just its author. It weaves together social and legal history, literary criticism, and some excruciatingly detailed medical descriptions (about Joyce's eye diseases) into a wonderfully engaging, light handed narrative. It's stunning how many people Birmingham manages to include here, starting with Joyce's inspiration and life partner Nora; his literary and financial patrons; the moralizing persecutors who hounded him and the crusading publishers who took risks on him; the book smugglers and pirates who helped disseminate his novel; and the supportive judge whose decision legalized Ulysses's publication in America. Just as Joyce's admirers were awed by his achievement, as a reader I'm awed by Birmingham's deft weaving of thousands of strands into a coherent, engrossing story.

ser_library Nov 17, 2014

a wonderful read; i stayed up to late one evening and the next day almost missed my bus stop while i read.

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