James Joyce went way beyond smut when he wrote Ulysses, an epic modernist masterpiece. The censorship history of Ulysses is as mind boggling as the author’s bloody-minded determination to offend. In a bizarre twist, this filthy book was never banned in Ireland.
The scrutiny of the censor was confined to the English language. But works in Irish, the other language of the state, were also censored by editors, bureaucrats and catholic reactionaries. No language was allowed to explore scandalous ‘sex feelings’.
When The Dark was banned in 1965, John McGahern’s life changed dramatically. A story of vengeful clerics, useless unions and disinterested civil servants that stands as the greatest censorship scandal in modern Ireland.
When The Dark was banned in 1965, John McGahern became the focus of a censorship controversy. But what about this coming-of-age novel irked the censors?
Hall’s queer text was at the centre of a moral panic and censorship show trial in England. Why did the Irish censor ban it, when an English prohibition meant Irish booksellers couldn’t source the book?
A censor told Seanad Éireann that this book was ‘unwholesome’ because of one sentence that mentioned ‘sodomy’. But I think he was fibbing. O’Brien questioned the validity of Irish nationalism in this book, a daring move that must have offended the censors.
An entertaining and elegant look at singledom in London that challenged censor’s ideas on sex and conception.
I had a lot of fun trashing this book with Cian from Wide Atlantic Weird podcast. Wheatley was a reactionary old racist who sold millions of books over a 40 year career. His influence on popular culture is probably underestimated. Partly thanks to him, naked women, candles and goat heads are visual short-hand for Satanism.
Only a truly paranoid censor would ban a book this innocuous. But even barely there smut can give convent-school girls ideas…
Why on earth was antique erotica, with its hilarious genital metaphors, censored in Ireland? This titillating text was officially ‘obscene’ for more than one hundred years.