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Ulysses Trial: 1933

"his Locale Was Celtic And His Season Spring"

On December 6, Judge Woolsey delivered his opinion on United States v. One Book Called Ulysses:

I hold that Ulysses is a sincere and honest book, and I think that the criticisms of it are entirely disposed by its rationale.… The words which are criticized as dirty are old Saxon words known to almost all men, and, I venture, to many women, and are such words as would be naturally and habitually used, I believe, by the types of folk whose life, physical and mental, Joyce is seeking to describe. In respect of the recurrent emergence of the theme of sex in the minds of his characters, it must always be remembered that his locale was Celtic and his season Spring.…

I am quite aware that owing to some of its scenes Ulysses is a rather strong draught to ask some sensitive, though normal, persons to take. But my considered opinion, after long reflection, is that whilst in many places the effect of Ulysses on the reader undoubtedly is somewhat emetic, nowhere does it tend to be an aphrodisiac. Ulysses may, therefore, be admitted into the United States.

Ten minutes after the judge completed his statement, Random House had typesetters at work on Ulysses.

The government appealed Woolsey's decision to the Circuit Court of Appeals, where Judge Learned Hand and his cousin, Judge Augustus Hand, affirmed the judgment. Judge Martin Manton dissented.

Bernard Ryan, Jr.

Suggestions for Further Reading

Esterow, Milton. "Perspective: United States of America v. One Book Called Ulysses." Art News (September 1990): 189-190.

Moscato, Michael, and Leslie LeBlanc. The United States of America v. One Book Entitled ULYSSES by James Joyce. Frederick, MD: University Publications of America, 1984.

Oboler, Eli M. The Fear of the Word: Censorship and Sex. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1974.

The Obscenity Report (report to the President's Task Force on Pornography and Obscenity). New York: Stein and Day, 1970.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1918 to 1940Ulysses Trial: 1933 - Two Percent For Life, "his Locale Was Celtic And His Season Spring", Suggestions For Further Reading