Joseph M. HassettUlysses Trials. Beauty and Truth Meet The Law
Dublin: The Lilliput Press, 2016, 221 pp.
The publishers of Ulysses by James Joyce were brought to trial and convicted of obscenity in the USA in 1921. The immortal prose, ultimately recognized as the greatest English language novel of the twentieth century, was first published by the pioneering literary magazine The Little Review. Its founder Margaret Anderson along with her publishing partner and lover, Jane Heap, were famously convicted of a crime for their extraordinary contribution to society. From then until its eventual publication in the US in 1934 the book ran the gamut of legal obstruction. The Ulysses Trials chronicles that progress and adds not only to the understanding of Joyce but also to the history of the laws of obscenity, censorship and freedom of speech. Its appeal is to Joyceans, all those interested in modernism and to the legal community and students of literature and law. The author is a fluent writer and through his experience as a lawyer he brings a deep understanding and analysis to the course of the court proceedings and the workings and ramifications of each case. He weaves a narrative of the text of Ulysses, the contemporaneous historical context and the motives of the players (John Quinn, Judge Woolsey et al) involved in each step of the trial. His manuscript is unique given his legal perspective on such a milestone legal battle over obscenity laws and hence freedom of speech in the English speaking world in the early twentieth century.Period photographs by Man Ray and others bring this fascinating story to life.