“An Evening of Censorship” aka: The Dionysium at “Banned, Burned, Seized and Censored”
In this Internet age, censorship isn’t much of a going concern in America. Yet, things were different in this country back when cars had a rumble seat, a lady never went out without her gloves and telephones still plugged into the wall.
Nowadays the phrase “Banned in Boston” is little more than a wink and a nod to a far more puritanical part of the twentieth century, but that wasn’t always the case. Up until the middle of the twentieth century, some works of literature were actually “Banned in Boston!”
As one of the Ransom Center’s current exhibit’s “Banned, Burned, Seized and Censored” explains, organizations like The New England Watch and Ward Society were once a powerful force in keeping theoretically “objectionable” material away from the public.
One of the most famous cases of 20th century censorship took place over James Joyce’s groundbreaking novel Ulysses.
When Ulysses was originally published by Sylvia Beach in Paris in 1922, it was seen as a provocative, scandalous and socially dangerous work. It was considered to be so dangerous that you couldn’t even bring one of the blue-covered copies into the United States! (One of those 1922 editions of Ulysses is included in the exhibit.)
The exhibit explains that Ulysses was not the only book banned in 20th Century America. Forever Amber, TheTropic of Cancer and The Children’s Hour were among the works that had difficult time making their unabridged way to an audience.
As an added attraction to this exhibition, the Dionysiumvariety show “An Evening of Censorship” will be held in collaboration with the exhibition on the evening of November 2.
Featuring music from the always dashing Graham Reynolds, and a “reading of banned literature” this censorship-themed variety show will feature musicians, debaters, and humorists.
We’re told the evening will include:
- Composer/musician Graham Reynolds (Golden Arm Trio) performing music inspired by Shostakovich’s banned opera, Lady Macbeth.
- Writer Amanda Krauss, on the problems of knowing obscenity when you see it.
- Dionysium founder L.B. Deyo, leading a debate on whether censorship is a legitimate function of government.
- A reading of banned literature.
- A presentation of the Greenwich Village Bookshop door, signed on both sides by more than 240 artists, writers, and publishers from the 1920s New York bohemian scene.
- Wine from Rex-Goliath!
It’s probably good that the New England Watch and Ward Society isn’t going to be around on November 2. Otherwise they’d be objecting to many of the goings on at the Ransom Center that night!
If you miss the partytime of “An Evening of Censorship,” the “Banned, Burned, Seized and Censored” exhibit continues through January 22 at the Ransom Center.