Thursday, September 27, 2012

Banned Books Week 2012 Virtual Readout (and Ulysses pie)

Banned Books week is nearly here (Sept. 30-Oct. 6) and this year I decided to do my annual reading from my favourite banned book of all - James Joyce's Ulysses.  In 1922, when the book was published in full, New York postal officials seized and burned 500 copies of the book (there were plenty of other, less official burnings as well). Rather extensive blasphemy, the eating of fried kidneys, breaking wind, and of course, plenty of sexual innuendo made this book a heavy target for censorship, but due to some very staunch supporters, the book survived until, in the US at least, the rather articulate judge John M. Woolsey ruled it to be not obscene, but rather (and I quote from my decrepid, falling-apart, but much loved 1961 Vintage edition shown off in the video below) "a somewhat tragic and very powerful commentary on the inner lives of men and women".  What's your favourite banned book?

Publishers Weekly has just put up a yummy Ulysses pie infographic in which they've looked at the distribution of some key items from the book (click here to check it out). It's pretty reductive - as all infographics are, but fun anyway.  Finally, I can't let the mention of Ulysses go by without once again pointing you in the direction of Frank Delaney's marvellous Re:Joyce - a series of short (free) podcasts that 'unpack' Joyce's great masterpiece in minute detail, without ever losing the coherency of the whole. If you've ever wondered how this book became so famous, or even how to begin reading it, Delaney's your man.


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