Wednesday, June 16, 2010

bloomsday, ipad and modern suppressors of vice

Say "Bloomsday" now and people will likely think you're talking gardens, but for years June 16 was celebrated by English speakers worldwide to commemorate the life of Irish writer James Joyce, author of Ulysses, a novel in which all events take place on this day in 1904. (Poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes chose the date to be married.) In Dublin, where the novel is set, the day is still celebrated with Ulysses readings and dramatizations, pub crawls and general merriment. But here in the US, Bloomsday is being celebrated for a different reason: It's the day Apple reversed its decision to censor "Ulysses Seen", a graphic novel adaptation of the masterwork for the ipad, which included a nude illustration. "We made a mistake," an Apple spokesperson said, apparently unaware that the book had encountered similar resistence when first published without pictures. In 1921, due to a campaign by New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, the book was declared obscene and banned by U.S Postal Authorities. In December 1933, the Supreme Court ruled that the work was not pornographic and therefore could not be obscene. Perhaps Supreme Court judges should be involved in new media adaptation. Or maybe it's a job for unemployable MFA Fiction grads.

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