James Joyce's Ulysses: 'Obscene, Lewd, and Lascivious'

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Kevin Birmingham

The book that literary critics now consider the most important novel in the English language was once illegal to own, sell, advertise or purchase in most of the English-speaking world. James Joyce’s Ulysses ushered in the modernist era and changed the novel forever, but when it was first published, the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice immediately banned it as “obscene, lewd, and lascivious.” Literary historian Kevin Birmingham tells the story of Ulysses, from Joyce’s initial inspiration in 1904 to its landmark federal obscenity trial in 1933. The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses recounts how Joyce and some of the most important publishers and writers of his era, had to fight for years to win the freedom to publish Ulysses.