What a shocker: no more books to ban

After 80 years of censorship from a board once internationally notorious for its prurience, the last remaining book to be banned in Ireland on the grounds of obscenity will have its prohibition lifted this year, writes John Byrne

NOT MUCH would appear to link Point Counter Point,Aldous Huxley’s satirical 1928 dynamiting of the foibles of the British intelligentsia, and The Base Guide to London,“an educational guide to surviving . . . the seedy side” of the English capital, from 1998. Separated by 70 years, a World War and radical changes in social mores, they may seem strange bedfellows, but these two titles represent the alpha and omega of book censorship by the State.

On May 9th, 1930, a year after the passing of the initial Censorship of Publications Act, Huxley’s novel became the act’s first casualty. Banned on the grounds that it was “indecent and obscene”, it earned the dubious historical honour of being recorded as the first entry in the first volume of the Register of Prohibited Publications. Sixty-eight years and 12,491 prohibitions later, The Base Guideremains the final entry in the register’s final volume.

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