TROPIC OF CANCER ON TRIAL: A Case History of Censorship by E. R. Hutchison

TROPIC OF CANCER ON TRIAL: A Case History of Censorship

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Freeing Cancer was a holy war, and, happily, the infidels won. Grove Press's horde of lawyers mapped strategy through the courts, rounded up an army of illustrious defense witnesses, and in more than sixty legal proceedings from 1961 to 1964, finally routed the censors. As Hutchison, a professor of English at Peabody College in Tennessee, demonstrates, the victors were Henry Miller, Grove Press and all publishers, the creed of freedom of expression, and a jubilant literary movement the author aptly calls erotic realism. Hutchison picks his way through all the legal skirmishes, focusing mainly on events in Wisconsin, where the assistant district attorney and a paperback distributor quietly controlled ""the flow of literature into Milwaukee County"" and where a pro-Cancer ruling nearly lost an important judge his judgeship. The author got his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin, and whether he followed the battle as it happened, or studied it later, he shows a sure command of all its intricacies. The rest of his book, however, is not so strong. Hutchison starts the story too early--even before Miller signed with Grove Press--and he is too vehemently pro-infidel. Not that the cause isn't right. But a book which so clearly aims to chastise the vanquished (including the Citizens for Decent Literature who selected and mailed dirty passages to prove their point) will not win converts from their numbers. The study is not sufficiently dispassionate to be definitive. Nor is it tactful of Grove to publish its own story. But as a preliminary case history, the book will find some readers.

Pub Date: July 17th, 1968
Publisher: Grove