Ellan Read

sometimes witty book reviews

Dirt for Art’s Sake: Books on Trial from Madame Bovary to Lolita

Elizabeth Ladenson has an unparalleled knowledge, it seems, of obscene literature. Through the quagmire of lengthy trials and scathing criticism that attacked books from Lady Chatterly’s Lover to The Well of Loneliness to UlyssesLadenson leads us on the winding trail of serious (or not so serious) art in ‘obscene’ literature.

I’ve only read three of the books explored, but Ladenson didn’t make me feel bad about it. Quite a feat for a literary non-fiction written by a Professor of Literature. Though at times a touch repetitive, this is still an engaging and well researched text with an excellent selection of the the very passages that made works like Ulysses so ban-able.

Also, the cover image is hysterically perfect.

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