Friday, September 9, 2022

the last book I ever read (We Don't Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Modern Ireland, excerpt three)

from We Don't Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Modern Ireland by Fintan O'Toole:

Just after midnight on 1 January 1962, the symbolic moment of Ireland’s new Irish TV age, viewers could see on their screens His Eminence Cardinal John D’Alton, the eighty-year-old Catholic Primate of All-Ireland. He was quite clear about what should not be on television. TÉ should reflect high ideals, ‘not presenting us with a caricature of Irish life such as we have had from some of our writers in recent years’. Viewers would have no trouble decoding this for themselves. They would have thought of Sive and of Tom Murphy’s On the Outside.

But freshest in their minds was the scandal of Edna O’Brien’s The Country Girls. O’Brien’s debut novel, telling the story of two young women through adolescence and teenage years, was banned in Ireland in June 1960, almost immediately upon its publication in London. It was one of thirty-five books banned on the same day by the Censorship of Publications Board, ranging from literary novels by O’Brien, Alberto Moravia, James T. Farrell and Emigdio Alvarez Enriquez to Diana Dors in 3D and French cartoons, from the Home Medical Encyclopaedia to What to Tell Your Children About Sex. They were all just filth.

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