Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0003108, Fri, 15 May 1998 13:08:10 -0700

Judge who banned ULYSSES (fwd)
EDITORIAL NOTE. In SM, VN recounts how his friend Peter Mrosovsky came
into his Cambridge room with a copy of _Ulysses_ smuggled in from Paris.
He then regaled VN withselestions from Molly Bloom's famous monologue -
the same section read by Judge Bodkin (!!?) below.
From: Galya Diment <galya@u.washington.edu>

Judge who banned ULYSSES: The Truth About Joyce's `Ulysses'

LONDON - A British prosecutor who decided in 1922 that James Joyce's
``Ulysses'' was obscene read only a few dozen pages at the end, according to
recently released government papers.

The documents, excerpted today in The Guardian, also detail the British
government's successful efforts to discourage a Cambridge University literary
critic from lecturing about the book.

The papers were supposed to be withheld for 100 years, but recently were
deposited at the Public Records Office, The Guardian said.

``Ulysses,'' published in Paris in 1922, shocked authorities with its vivid
reflections on love and sex, including Molly Bloom's earthy soliloquy in the
last chapter. Customs officials in New York burned copies in 1923.

Sir Archibald Bodkin, the director of public prosecutions, concluded that the
book was obscene after it came to official attention when a copy was seized at
Croydon airport on Dec. 22, 1922. The book was barred from publication or sale
in Britain.

``I have not had the time, nor may I add the inclination to read through this
book. I have, however, read pages 690 to 732,'' Bodkin wrote. ``There is a
great deal of unmitigated filth and obscenity.''

In 1926, the government learned that critic F.R. Leavis, then at the start of
his career, proposed to lecture about ``Ulysses.'' Bodkin's office warned
Cambridge against allowing a lecture.

``Ulysses'' was eventually published in London in 1936, in an expensive
limited edition. The Home Office, noting that ``standards in these matters are
constantly changing,'' decided not to prosecute.

The novel ends with the following passage: ``He kissed me under the Moorish
wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my
eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain
flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he
could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes
I said yes I will Yes.''

AP-NY-05-15-98 1036EDT