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Kernes: What I'm Reading Today (11/30)


"I am so glad that you are about to marry. It is not good for man to be alone. And there is a sweet and wholesome satisfaction attending intercourse with a woman whom a man rejoices to openly acknowledge as his wife...

"In the marital relation the sexual nature manifests through two distinct functions - the love function and the parental function. These two functions are not always exercised conjointly. There are also different sets of organs for these two different functions.

"For the parental functions the organs are, in women, the ovaries and uterus. In men they are the testicles and the vesiculae seminales.

"For the love function the organs are those which contact, the organ in man, the vulva and vagina in women...
"Upon no account use the hand to arouse excitement at the woman's genitals. There is but one lawful finger of love with which to approach her sexual organs for purposes of excitation - the erectile organ of the male. Many men, in order to arouse passion quickly in the woman, are accustomed to titillate the clitoris with the finger - a proceeding which is distinctly masturbative ... The orgasm aroused by excitation within the vagina appears to be the one which satisfies the woman most completely, because it awakens her sweetest and most womanly, most maternal instincts ..." - from Advice to a Bridegroom by Ida Craddock, who committed suicide in 1902 after having been convicted for the second time of obscenity, thanks to Anthony Comstock, secretary of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice

"In its first six months of operation, Comstock said, the [1873 Comstock] law made it possible for him to seize 194,000 obscene pictures and photographs, 134,000 pounds of books, 14,200 stereopticon plates, 60,300 'rubber articles,' 5,500 sets of playing cards, and 31,150 boxes of pills and powders, mostly 'aphrodisiacs.'"

 

"The judges professed such horror of the [alleged obscene] stuff the police brought before them that they usually did not allow it into the record, let the jurors take it into the jury room, or let lawyers read it aloud in the courtroom. This made especially problematic the defense in an obscenity case, and next to useless any appeal from a guilty verdict: the reviewing judges had no way of testing the trial judge's or jury's conclusions that the material in question was obscene." [c. 1902]

 

"In Serbia those words are good for people but in America it is not good, they are not healthy about words ... You can go to prison" - An unnamed Serbian printer to Margaret Anderson, as she explained to him certain words used in James Joyce's Ulysses, which Anderson was serializing in her magazine, The Little Review

 

"And Jacky Caffrey shouted to look, there was another and she leaned back and the garters were blue to match on account of the transparent and they all saw it and shouted to look, look there it was and she leaned back ever so far to see the fireworks and something queer was flying about through the air, a soft thing to and fro, dark. And she saw a long Roman candle going up over the trees up, up, and they were all breathless with excitement as it went higher and higher and she had to lean back more and more to look up after it, high, high, almost out of sight, and her face was suffused with a divine, an entrancing blush from straining back and he could see her other things too, nainsook knickers, four and eleven, on account of being white and she let him and she saw that he saw and then it went so high it went out of sight a moment and she was trembling in every limb from being bent so far back that he could see high up above her knee where no-one ever and she wasn't ashamed and he wasn't either to look in that immodest way like that because he couldn't resist the sight like those skirtdancers behaving so immodest before gentlemen looking and he kept on looking, looking." - from the "Nausicaa" chapter of Ulysses, recounting a meeting between Gertie McDowell and Leopold Bloom

 

"Mr. Joyce was not teaching early Egyptian perversions nor inventing new ones. Girls lean back everywhere, showing lace and silk stockings; wear low-cut sleeveless blouses, breathless bathing suits; men think thoughts and have emotions about these things everywhere - seldom as delicately and imaginatively as Mr. Bloom - and no one is corrupted." - Jane Heap, co-publisher of The Little Review, defending her publication of Ulysses in court, Nov. 1920

 

"Heap had fine insight into the workings of obscenity law. Elsewhere she remarked that in seeking to protect the public against obscenity the law actually creates 'an artificial market for pornography.'" - from Published In Paris by Hugh Ford (1975)

 

JOHN QUINN [Margaret Anderson's attorney]: "And now for God's sake, don't publish any more obscene literature!"
MARGARET ANDERSON: "How am I to know when it's obscene?"
JOHN QUINN: "I'm sure I don't know. But don't do it!"

 

"There will be, doubtless, the usual outcry from circles self-styled artistic and literary over the fining of the two women who edit and publish The Little Review for printing in it a presentation of life in Dublin as seen by a writer by the name of Joyce ... It is a curious production, not wholly uninteresting, especially to psychopathologists. Its offending lies in its occasional violations of what by common consent is decency in the use of words. Mr. Joyce and the editors of The Little Review probably would defend them as 'realistic,' but that does not make them the more tolerable in print, and certainly does not make them either artistic or literary." - The New York Times, Nov. 1920

 

"Women were discriminated against even more than Jews in book publishing, notwithstanding that they had been prominently involved, as both writers and readers, 'in the manic surge toward fiction' that took place in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. In 1872, according to John Tebbel's definitive History of Book Publishing in the United States, nearly three fourths of American novels published were written by women. By 1880 the flood of fiction was so strong that a backlash set in from people who feared that novels 'were the opiate of the masses and productive of social degeneracy.' A magazine called The Hour warned in 1880: 'Millions of young girls and hundreds of thousands of young men are novelized into absolute idiocy. Novel-readers are like opium-smokers; the more they have of it the more they want it, and the publishers, delighted at this state of affairs, go on corrupting public taste and understanding and making fortunes out of this corruption.'"

 

**

 

All of the above can be found in just the first 19 pages of Girls Lean Back Everywhere: The Law of Obscenity and the Assault on Genius, by Edward de Grazia







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