Obscenity

Cover of an undated American edition of Fanny Hill, c. 1910
The 18th century book Fanny Hill has been subject to obscenity trials at various times (image: plate XI: The bathing party; La baignade)

Any utterance or act that strongly offends the prevalent morality of the time.

- Obscenity
Cover of an undated American edition of Fanny Hill, c. 1910

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Miller v. California

Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973), was a landmark decision of the US Supreme Court modifying its definition of obscenity from that of "utterly without socially redeeming value" to that which lacks "serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value."

1932 UK authorised edition

Lady Chatterley's Lover

Last novel, by English author D. H. Lawrence, which was first published privately in 1928, in Italy, and in 1929, in France.

Last novel, by English author D. H. Lawrence, which was first published privately in 1928, in Italy, and in 1929, in France.

1932 UK authorised edition
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Translator Sei Itō (left) and his publisher Hisajirō Oyama (right) at the first Chatterley trial in Japan.

The book was also banned for obscenity in the United States, Canada, Australia, India and Japan.

Roth v. United States

Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476 (1957), along with its companion case Alberts v. California, was a landmark decision of the US Supreme Court which redefined the Constitutional test for determining what constitutes obscene material unprotected by the First Amendment.

Jacobellis v. Ohio

Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184 (1964), was a United States Supreme Court decision handed down in 1964 involving whether the state of Ohio could, consistent with the First Amendment, ban the showing of the Louis Malle film The Lovers (Les Amants), which the state had deemed obscene.

Morpheme-based morphology tree of the word "independently"

I know it when I see it

Colloquial expression by which a speaker attempts to categorize an observable fact or event, although the category is subjective or lacks clearly defined parameters.

Colloquial expression by which a speaker attempts to categorize an observable fact or event, although the category is subjective or lacks clearly defined parameters.

Morpheme-based morphology tree of the word "independently"

The phrase was used in 1964 by United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart to describe his threshold test for obscenity in Jacobellis v. Ohio.

D. H. Lawrence, 1929

D. H. Lawrence

English writer and poet.

English writer and poet.

D. H. Lawrence, 1929
Lawrence at age 21 in 1906
Photograph of Lawrence by Lady Ottoline Morrell, 29 November 1915
D. H. Lawrence Birthplace Museum in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire

Both novels were highly controversial and were banned on publication in the UK for obscenity, although Women in Love was banned only temporarily.

Official portrait, 1976

Potter Stewart

American lawyer and judge who served as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1958 to 1981.

American lawyer and judge who served as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1958 to 1981.

Official portrait, 1976

In the obscenity case of Jacobellis v. Ohio (1964), Stewart wrote in his short concurrence that "hard-core pornography" was hard to define, but that "I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that."

Penguin Books

British publishing house.

British publishing house.

Plaque marking the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Penguin Books by Allen Lane at 8 Vigo Street.
Penguin Crime editions.
Penguin's English edition of Yuri Krimov’s novel The Tanker “Derbent"
Penguin Classics editions
The 80 Little Black Classics published in 2015 marking the 80th anniversary Penguin Books
Four Pelican book covers, showing the gradual shift in the design. From left – 1937 (three bands), 1955 (grid), 1969 (illustrated), and 2007 (a "Penguin Celebrations" throwback edition)
Covers of two Penguin Education titles

The novel was at the time unpublished in the United Kingdom and the predicted obscenity trial, R v Penguin Books Ltd, not only marked Penguin as a fearless publisher, it also helped drive the sale of at least 3.5 million copies.

Miller test

The Miller test, also called the three-prong obscenity test, is the United States Supreme Court's test for determining whether speech or expression can be labeled obscene, in which case it is not protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and can be prohibited.

Burroughs in the 1980s

William S. Burroughs

American writer and visual artist, widely considered a primary figure of the Beat Generation and a major postmodern author who influenced popular culture and literature.

American writer and visual artist, widely considered a primary figure of the Beat Generation and a major postmodern author who influenced popular culture and literature.

Burroughs in the 1980s
William S. Burroughs' childhood home on Pershing Place in St. Louis
William S. Burroughs and James Grauerholz in the alley behind the Jazzhaus in Lawrence, Kansas (1996)
Burroughs and David Woodard with Brion Gysin Dreamachine, 1997

Once published in the United States, Naked Lunch was prosecuted as obscene by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, followed by other states.