Jewels in Her Crown: Treasures of Columbia University Libraries Special Collections

Exhibition Themes > Literature > 213. James Joyce

213.  James Joyce (1882-1941).  Ulysses. Paris: Shakespeare and Co., 1930. RBML, Book Arts Collection

This copy of the eleventh printing of James Joyce's Ulysses was imported by Random House and seized as pornographic by United States Customs in New York on May 8, 1933. The District Attorney marked the objectionable passages, such as the heavily marked pages in the Ithaca episode, to prepare the government's case for use in the now famous court proceedings. In his decision, made on December 6, 1933, Judge John M. Woolsey recognized that the intent of the work was not pornographic, and that the test for obscenity could not be the presence of isolated obscene passages, but the effect of the work in its entirety. The result of the decision was to permit Random House to publish Ulysses, on January 25, 1934, without legal risks; and the long range consequence was the eventual publication in the United States of other controversial works by authors such as D. H. Lawrence and Henry Miller.

Gift of Bennett Cerf, 1935

Columbia University Libraries / Butler Library / 535 West 114th St. / New York, NY 10027 / (212) 854-7309 /