Lecture 1

[Tilly Greene]

Why Ban Books?

Anthology Texts:

For books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them. I know they are as lively, and as vigorously productive, as those fabulous dragon's teeth; and being sown up and down, may chance to spring up armed men. And yet, on the other hand, unless wariness be used, as good almost kill a man as kill a good book. Who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God's image; but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself, kills the image of God, as it were in the eye. Many a man lives a burden to the earth; but a good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life. 'Tis true, no age can restore a life, whereof perhaps there is no great loss; and revolutions of ages do not oft recover the loss of a rejected truth, for the want of which whole nations fare the worse.
- John Milton

  1. For the purposes of this Act, a publication is objectionable if it describes, depicts, expresses, or otherwise deals with matters such as sex, horror, crime, cruelty, or violence in such a manner that the availability of the publication is likely to be injurious to the public good.

  2. A publication shall be deemed to be objectionable for the purposes of this Act if the publication promotes or supports, or tends to promote or support,---
    • The exploitation of children, or young persons, or both, for sexual purposes; or
    • The use of violence or coercion to compel any person to participate in, or submit to, sexual conduct; or
    • Sexual conduct with or upon the body of a dead person; or
    • The use of urine or excrement in association with degrading or dehumanising conduct or sexual conduct; or
    • Bestiality; or
    • Acts of torture or the infliction of extreme violence or extreme cruelty.

  3. In determining, for the purposes of this Act, whether or not any publication (other than a publication to which subsection (2) of this section applies) is objectionable or should be given a classification other than objectionable, particular weight shall be given to the extent and degree to which, and the manner in which, the publication---
    • Describes, depicts, or otherwise deals with---
      1. Acts of torture, the infliction of serious physical harm, or acts of significant cruelty:
      2. Sexual violence or sexual coercion, or violence or coercion in association with sexual conduct:
      3. Other sexual or physical conduct of a degrading or dehumanising or demeaning nature:
      4. Sexual conduct with or by children, or young persons, or both:
      5. Physical conduct in which sexual satisfaction is derived from inflicting or suffering cruelty or pain:
    • Exploits the nudity of children, or young persons, or both:
    • Degrades or dehumanises or demeans any person:
    • Promotes or encourages criminal acts or acts of terrorism:
    • Represents (whether directly or by implication) that members of any particular class of the public are inherently inferior to other members of the public by reason of any characteristic of members of that class, being a characteristic that is a prohibited ground of discrimination specified in section 21 (1) of the Human Rights Act 1993.

  4. In determining, for the purposes of this Act, whether or not any publication (other than a publication to which subsection (2) of this section applies) is objectionable or should be given a classification other than objectionable, the following matters shall also be considered:
    • The dominant effect of the publication as a whole:
    • The impact of the medium in which the publication is presented:
    • The character of the publication, including any merit, value, or importance that the publication has in relation to literary, artistic, social, cultural, educational, scientific, or other matters:
    • The persons, classes of persons, or age groups of the persons to whom the publication is intended or is likely to be made available:
    • The purpose for which the publication is intended to be used:
    • Any other relevant circumstances relating to the intended or likely use of the publication.
- 1993 Censorship Act

[Big Brother]

Workshop 1:

In the tutorial this week you will be sorted into five groups. Each group will be assigned two novels to describe and report on the class. This will take place twice in the semester. These two sessions will constitute 20% of your final grade. You will be marked both on the extent of your preparation and the quality of your contribution to the discussion of these two texts.

Exercise 1:
Test Case: The Golden Ass

Should this book be banned? Or just some versions of it?

[Apuleius: La Metamorphose de Lucius (illustrated by Milo Manara)]

Notice of Seizure of Goods under Customs and Excise Act 1996

Reg. 80 / Form 13 / Section 227, Customs and Excise Act 1996:

(I) Insert name of importer or other person known or believed to have an interest in the goods

To ––––––––––––
Auckland, New Zealand

(2) Insert particulars of the goods seized

Take Notice that

1 x book titled “La Metamorphose De Lucius’ imported on 19 August 2003 have been seized on 16 September 2003 as forfeited to the Crown under section 225(1)(n) and 225(1)(a)(v) of the Customs and Excise Act 1996

(3) Insert particulars as to cause of forfeiture

on the grounds that

the imported publications identified above were examined and are considered to be prohibited from importation pursuant to section 54 of the Customs & Excise Act 1996 in that they are considered to be objectionable in terms of section 3 of the Films, Videos & Publications Classification Act 1993 for the reasons shown in the schedule on page two of this Notice of Seizure.

this 16th day of September 2003


>La Metamorphose de Lucius
This publication contains a cartoon story depicting sexual activity between adults. A scene in the story depicts a male turning into a donkey and then having sexual intercourse with a female.

Section 3(2)(e) FVPC Act 1993 - Bestiality

So let's test the temperature for ourselves.


I found nobody at home but my charming Fotis who was preparing pork rissoles for her master and mistress, while the appetizing smell of haggis-stew drifted to my nostrils from an earthenware casserole on the stove. She wore a neat white house dress, gathered in below the breasts with a red silk band, and as she alternately stirred the casserole and shaped the rissoles with her pretty hands, the twisting and turning made her whole body quiver seductively.

The sight had so powerful an effect on me that for awhile I stood rooted in admiration; and so did something else. At last I found my voice. 'Dear Fotis,' I said, 'how daintily. how charm­ingly you stir that casserole: I love watching you wriggle your hips. And what a wonderful cook you are! The man whom you allow to poke his finger into your little casserole is the luckiest fellow alive. That sort of stew would tickle the most jaded palate.'

She retorted over her shoulder: 'Go away, you scoundrel; keep clear of my little cooking stove! If you come too near even when the fire is low a spark may fly out and set you on fire; and when that happens nobody but myself will be capable of putting the flames out. A wonderful cook, am I? Yes, I certainly know how to tickle a man's ... well, his palate, if you care to call it that, and how to keep things nicely on the boil – between the sheets as well as on a kitchen-stove.'

Lucius Apuleius, "“At Milo’s House.” The Transformations of Lucius, Otherwise Known as The Golden Ass, trans. Robert Graves (Harmondsworth: Penguin Classics, 1950): p.52.

Less acceptable ...

Before we had quite finished discussing my plan, a sudden wave of longing swept over us both. We pulled off our clothes and rushed naked together in Bacchic fury; and when I was nearly worn out by the natural consummation of my desire she tempted me to make love to her as though she were a boy; so that when, after long hours of wakefulness, we finally dropped off to sleep. it was broad daylight before we felt like getting up again.

- Apuleius, “The Festival of Laughter,” pp.86-87.


So many visitors wanted to watch my performances that my trainer decided to make money out of me. He kept the stable doors shut and charged a high price for admittance, one person at a time. His daily takings were considerable.

Among these visitors was a rich noblewoman. My various tricks enchanted her and at last she conceived the odd desire of getting to know me intimately. In fact, she grew so passionately fond of me that, like Pasiphae in the legend ,who fell in love with a bull, she bribed my trainer with a large sum of money to let her spend a night in my company. I am sorry to record that the rascal agreed with no thought for anything but his own pocket.

When I had dined with Thyasus and come back to my stable, I found the noblewoman waiting for me. She had been there some time already. Heavens, what magnificent preparations she had made for her love-affair! Four eunuchs had spread the floor with several plump feather-beds, covered them with a Tyrian purple cloth embroidered in gold, and laid a heap of little pillows at the head end, of the downy sort used by women of fashion. Then, not wishing to postpone their mistress's enjoy­ment by staying a moment longer than necessary, out they trooped, but left fine, white candles burning to light up the shadowy corners.

She undressed at once, taking everything off, even to the gauze scarf tied across her beautiful breasts, then stood close to the lamp and rubbed her body all over with oil of balsam from a pewter pot. She then did the same to mine, most generously, but concentrating mostly on my nose. After this she gave me a lingering kiss - not of the mercenary sort that one expects in a brothel. or from a whore picked up in the street or sent along by an agency, but a pure, sincere, really loving kiss. 'Darling,' she cried, 'I love you. You are all I want in this world. I could never live without you.' She added all the other pretty things that women say when they want men to share their own passionate feelings. Then she took me by my head band and had no difficulty in making me lie down on the bed. reclining on one elbow, because that was one of the tricks I had learned, and she evidently was not expecting me to do anything that I had not done before.

You must understand that she was a beautiful woman and desperately eager for my embraces. Besides, I had been continent for several months and now, with all this fragrant scent in my nostrils and a kegful of Thyasus's best wine inside me, I felt fit for anything. All the same, I was worried, very worried indeed, at the thought of sleeping with so lovely a woman: my great hairy legs and hard hooves pressed against her milk­and-honey skin - her dewy red lips kissed by my huge mouth with its ugly great teeth. Worst of all, how could any woman alive, though exuding lust from her very finger nails, accept the formidable challenge of my thighs? If I proved too much for her, if I seriously injured her - think of it, a noblewoman too - my master would be forced to use me in his promised entertainment as food for his wild beasts. But her burning eyes devoured mine, as she cooed sweetly at me between kisses and finally gasped: 'Ah, ah, I have you safe now, my little dove, my little birdie.' Then I realized how foolish my fears had been. She pressed me closer and closer to her and met my challenge to the full. I tried to back away, but she resisted every attempt to spare her, twining her arms tight around my back, until I wondered whether after all I was capable of serving her as she wished. I began to appreciate the story of Pasiphae: if she was anything like this woman she had every reason to fix her affections on the bull who fathered the Minotaur on her. My new mistress did not allow me to sleep a wink that night, but as soon as the embarrassing daylight crept into the room she crept out, first pleading with my keeper to let her spend another night with me for the same fee.

- Apuleius, “Under the Trainer,” pp.254-56.

[Manara: Cupid & Psyche]

Next week:

Group 1: Book report on
Ulysses due.

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