Archive for March 19th, 2015

The people do not exist for the sake of literature, to give the author fame, the publisher wealth, and the book a market.  On the contrary, literature exists for the sake of the people, to refresh the weary, to console the sad, to hearten the dull and downcast, to increase man’s interest in the world, his joy of living, and his sympathy in all sorts and conditions of men.  Art for art’s sake is heartless and soon grows artless;  art for the public market is not art at all, but commerce;  art for the people’s service is a noble, vital and permanent element of human life…  Masterpieces have never been produced by men given to obscenity or lustful thoughts – men who have no Master…  Good work in literature has its permanent mark;  it is like all good work, noble and lasting.  It requires a human aim – to cheer, console, purify, or ennoble the life of people.  With this aim, literature has never sent an arrow close to the mark.  It is by good work only that men of letters can justify their right to a place in the world.
    —    Circuit Judge Martin Manton
Writing in his dissenting opinion on the pornographic nature of the book “Ulysses” by James Joyce in the case:  United States v. One Book Entitled Ulysses, 72 F.2d 705 (2d Cir. 1934)
The majority opinion was that the book was not pornography and the court’s decision was upheld on review.
[Actually, the classification of any art – literature or other – as pornography or otherwise is very subjective and difficult.  As such, I prefer the better known quote concerning pornography:
I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it,…
    —    Mr. Justice Potter Stewart
United States Supreme Court
Concurring in Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 US 184 (1964).
Both quotes are about “art” but from unrelated cases – one about a book and the other about a movie.  While I personally agree with the court’s decision about “Ulysses“, I find myself in complete agreement with Judge Manton’s statement that “Good work in literature has its permanent mark“.
Today’s post is unusual in that I don’t normally compare / contrast quotes and I also don’t normally comment on them.  “Interpretation” is normally left to the reader.   There is no particular reason for today’s exception.   —   KMAB]
On This Day In:
2014 Nudge, Nudge
2013 The Journey Will Be Joy
2012 Hopeful Flights
2011 Irrationally Predictable
Lawful Restraint

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