Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0003111, Mon, 18 May 1998 08:20:04 -0700

Re: Judge who banned ULYSSES (fwd)
>From: Galya Diment <galya@u.washington.edu>

>``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.''
Due to fortuitous bad housekeeping I happen to have a copy of that day's
Guardian on my desk at the moment. Bodkin goes on to say: "I can discover
no story, there is no introduction which might give a key ... and the pages
mentioned above ... are as if composed by a more or less illiterate vulgar

In 1926 the Director of Public Prosecutions writes to the Master of Downing
College, Cambridge: "The book concludes with reminiscences, as I suppose
they may be called, of an Irish chamberlain in which various parts of
grossness and indecency appear."

Later, Bodkin reappears to say: "This is not the first occasion on which I
have known of a book containing disgusting passages being favourable [sic]
reviewed by 'literary critics'." His concern is to prevent any knowledge of
this book spreading amongst university students of either sex.

It was not until 1936 that the book became widely available. The first
print run was 100 signed copies at the astonishing price of 6 guineas
(£6/6/-) and 900 others at 3 guineas.

Interestingly, although the Irish censors at that period were frenetic in
their book banning, Ulysses escaped an explicit ban, to the best of my
knowledge. However, it had the notoriety and reputation of a banned book
for some time.

EDITOR's NOTE. The judge's concern for the welfare of university students
is especially touching.