Bad writer! Naughty! You get a spanking.
Pornographic, smutty, obscene, and filthy were words used in 1959 by the U.S. postmaster general to justify his ban on Lady Chatterley’s
Lover, D.H. Lawrence’s 1928 novel of the adulterous affair between an airy, aristocratic lady and an earthy, working-class man. The book fared no better in Lawrence’s native Britain, where it was outlawed until 1960.
A Taos resident during the early 1920s, Lawrence wrote a morally compelling book whose boudoir scenes are nonetheless quite tame by today’s standards. “And he had to come in to her at once, to enter the peace on earth of her soft, quiescent body,” isn’t a sentence whose sexual frankness, or casual blasphemy for that matter, would even register with most of today’s readers.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of a British court ruling that declared the book could be published, Garcia Street Books presents an exhibit of rare and erotic books called What Is Obscene? The show features a signed first edition of Lawrence’s book, along with rare editions of James Joyce’s Ulysses, including the original 1922 Shakespeare & Company print of the novel. For contrast with our modern-day mores, the bookstore also features contemporary racy publications including art publisher Taschen’s The Big
Penis Book and Sex, Madonna’s 1992 paean to her own sexual fantasies — which at the time included everything from eating pizza slices nude in public to, well, Vanilla Ice. The exhibition and sale opens at 9 a.m. Saturday, July 10, and runs through Sept. 6 at Garcia Street Books, 376 Garcia St. For more information, call 986-0151.