This fascinating book chronicles the early life of the novel Ulysses and contrasts the first obscenity trial, which found Joyce’s prose obscene, with the second, in which the novel was exonerated. It adds not only to the understanding of Joyce but also to the history of the struggle of writers to overcome law of obscenity. The author’s experience as a lawyer brings a deep understanding and analysis to each case. He weaves in a narrative of the text of Ulysses, the contemporaneous historical context and the motives of the players (John Quinn, Judge Woolsey et al) involved in each step of the trials.
Joseph M. Hassett is both a leading trial lawyer and an authoritative literary critic based in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and holds a PhD from University College Dublin. Hassett’s book, W.B. Yeats and the Muses was published by Oxford University Press in 2010.
“[Hassett] has a smooth scholarly style that draws the reader in, and his argument is well-researched and persuasive…Hassett creates an engaging portrait of the dawn of literary modernism and will leave readers nostalgic for a time when a challenging literary novel could be the cause of so much trouble.”–Publishers Weekly
“[A] superbly written gem of a book…Hassett’s clear writing style makes this work accessible to all readers, who will find the legal analysis both comprehensive and compelling.”–Library Journal (Starred Review)
“Hassett is a Harvard-trained trial lawyer and a formidable critic in his own right, and so he brings to this book both his literary and legal acumen, becoming the ideal chronicler of this tale.”–Irish Voice
“Himself a Washington-based Irish-American lawyer, he is well placed to understand and assess the issues involved. Above all, as with the best books, Hassett has strong views of his own and states them strongly.”–Irish Times
“In his lifetime (1870-1924) and ever since, John Quinn, the Irish-American lawyer, art collector and patron of the arts, has had more or less a free pass. With Joseph Hassett’s incisive book the curiously protracted impunity Quinn has enjoyed has at last expired…. Joseph Hassett, in his other life a trial-hardened lawyer in the United States, has written a counter-brief. It is remorselessly courteous, even collegiate. It is also devastating. Quinn committed more or less every sin open to the advocate, even if he continued to believe he was acting in the best interests of Joyce.”–Dublin Review of Books232 pages (Lilliput Press)
ISBN 978-1-84351-668-2 Hardback $45.00