Government censorship had a profound impact on the development of canonical modernism and on the public images of modernist writers. Celia Marshik argues that censorship can benefit as well as harm writers and the works they create in response to it. She weaves together histories of official and unofficial censorship, of individual writers and their relationships to such censorship and of British modernism. Throughout, Marshik draws on an extraordinary range of evidence, including the files of government agencies and social purity organisations. She analyses how works were written, revised, published and performed in relation to this complex web of social forces. Chapters of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Bernard Shaw, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce and Jean Rhys demonstrate that by both reacting against and complying with the forces of repression, writers reaped personal and stylistic benefits for themselves and for society at large.
Introduction: the ethics of indecency; 1. Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the censorship dialectic; 2. Bernard Shaw's defensive laughter; 3. Virginia Woolf and the gender censorship; 4. James Joyce and the necessary scandal of art; 5. Jean Rhys and the downward path; Afterword: forgotten evils; Notes; Bibliography; Index.
"Brilliant and thoroughly grounded in archival material and historical context, this book is essential reading for scholars of Victorian and Modernist literature. Marshik's study is unquestionably a landmark contribution British literary studies and offers a new perspective that no previous book-length scholarly work has addressed."
-Vara Neverow, Southern Connecticut State University, Woolf Studies Annual
"British Modernism and Censorship, Celia Marshik's welcome 'recovery effort' (203), not only fills a gap in modernist studies, but also lays new groundwork for many significant conversations. With current concerns regarding an international slave trade, varied fundamentalist movements, continuing censorship issues related to publishing, art displays, free speech, and the increasing corporate control of the media, these new conversations--stimulated by Marshik's excellent study-- will surely begin."
Virginia Woolf Miscellany, Judith Allen, University of Pennsylvania