more than a decade, the book that literary critics now consider the most
important novel in the English language was illegal to own, sell, advertise, or
purchase in most of the English-speaking world. James Joyce’s big blue book, Ulysses,
ushered in the modernist era and changed the novel for all time. But the genius
of Ulysses was also its danger: it omitted absolutely nothing. All of
the minutiae of Leopold Bloom’s day, including its unspeakable details, unfold
with careful precision in its pages. The New York Society for the Suppression
of Vice immediately banned the novel as “obscene, lewd, and lascivious.” Joyce,
along with some of the most important publishers and writers of his era, had to
fight for years to win the freedom to publish it. The Most Dangerous Book
tells the remarkable story surrounding Ulysses, from the first stirrings
of Joyce’s inspiration in 1904 to its landmark federal obscenity trial in 1933.
historian Kevin Birmingham follows Joyce’s years as a young writer, his feverish
work on his literary masterpiece, and his ardent love affair with Nora
Barnacle, the model for Molly Bloom. Joyce and Nora socialized with literary
greats like Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, T. S. Eliot and Sylvia Beach. Their
support helped Joyce fight an array of antivice crusaders while his book was
disguised and smuggled, pirated and burned in the United States and Britain.
The long struggle for publication added to the growing pressures of Joyce’s
deteriorating eyesight, finances, and home life.
finally came from the partnership of Bennett Cerf, the cofounder of Random
House, and Morris Ernst, a dogged civil liberties lawyer. With their
stewardship, the case ultimately rested on the literary merit of Joyce’s master
work. The sixty-year-old judicial practices governing obscenity in the United
States were overturned because a federal judge could get inside Molly Bloom’s
archival work brings to light new information about both Joyce and the story
surrounding Ulysses. Written for ardent Joyceans as well as novices who
want to get to the heart of the greatest novel of the twentieth century, The
Most Dangerous Book is a gripping examination of how the world came to say
yes to Ulysses. Download and start listening now!