Modernism and the Theater of Censorship

Modernism and the Theater of Censorship

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Adam Parkes investigates the literary and cultural implications of the censorship encountered by several modern novelists in the early twentieth century. He situates modernism in the context of this censorship, examining the relations between such authors as D.H. Lawrence, James Joyce, Radclyffe Hall, and Virginia Woolf and the public controversies generated by their fictional explorations of modern sexual themes. These authors located "obscenity" at the level of stylistic and formal experiment. The Rainbow, Lady Chatterley's Lover, Ulysses, and Orlando dramatized problems of sexuality and expression in ways that subverted the moral, political, and aesthetic premises on which their censors operated. In showing how modernism evolved within a culture of censorship, Modernism and the Theater of Censorship suggests that modern novelists, while shaped by their culture, attempted to reshape it.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 162.6 x 238.3 x 22.4mm | 603.29g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 0195097025
  • 9780195097023

Back cover copy

In November of 1915, British authorities invoked the 1857 Obscene Publications Act to suppress D. H. Lawrence's novel, The Rainbow. This was the first in a series of obscenity controversies that took place in Britain and the United States during the next decade. Joyce's Ulysses and Lawrence's last novel, Lady Chatterley's Lover, were censored in both countries; in 1928 the British courts banned Radclyffe Hall's lesbian novel, The Well of Loneliness. Adam Parkes investigates the literary and cultural implications of these controversies. Situating modernism in the context of censorship, he examines the relations between such authors as D. H. Lawrence, James Joyce, Radclyffe Hall, and Virginia Woolf and the public scandals generated by their fictional explorations of modern sexual themes. Locating "obscenity" at the level of stylistic and formal experiment, such novels as The Rainbow, Lady Chatterley's Lover, Ulysses, and Orlando dramatized problems of sexuality and expression in ways that subverted the moral, political, and aesthetic premises of their censors. In showing how modernism evolved within a culture of censorship, Modernism and the Theater of Censorship suggests that modern novelists, while shaped by their culture, attempted to reshape it.show more

Review quote

In addition to offering a valuable new assessment of modernism's significant role in the evolution of contemporary notions of gender and sexuality, Parkes's volume illuminates our understanding of the culture of censorship's unusual * and indeed, pivotal * Thanks to Parkes's work we can better appreciate not just the modernists' daring but their exasperation in creating works of art in a culture of censorship. * Modern Philology * ...Brilliantly researched....As a whole, this book is as significant a contribution to the literature of modern censorship as Leonard Leff and Jerold Simmons's The Dame in the Kimono. * Choice *show more

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