Is it a book that you would even wish your wife or your servants to read?  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Sexual revolution in England

"Is it a book that you would even wish your wife or your servants to read?" is a dictum by Mervyn Griffith-Jones from the trial resulting from the publication of D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover by Penguin Books in 1960. Although first printed in 1928, the release in 1960 of an inexpensive mass-market paperback version prompted a court case. The prosecuting council's question highlighted how far society had changed, and how little some people had noticed the change. The book was seen as one of the first events in a general relaxation of sexual attitudes.

'Let me emphasize it on behalf of the Prosecution: do not approach this matter in any priggish, high-minded, super-correct, mid-Victorian manner. Look at it as we all of us, I hope, look at things today, and then, to go back and requote the works of Mr Justice Devlin, "You will have to say, is this book to be tolerated or not?", in the sense that it must tend, or may tend, to deprave and corrupt. Members of the Jury, when you have seen this book, making all such allowances in favour of it as you can, the Prosecution will invite you to say that it does tend, certainly that it may tend, to induce lustful thoughts in the minds of those who read it. It goes further, you may think. It sets upon a pedestal promiscuous and adulterous intercourse. It commends, and indeed it sets out to commend, sensuality almost as a virtue. It encourages, and indeed even advocates, coarseness and vulgarity of thought and of language. You may think that it must tend to deprave the minds certainly of some and you may think many of the persons who are likely to buy it at the price of 3s 6d and read it, with 200,000 copies already printed and ready for release.
'You may think that one of the ways in which you can test this book, and test it from the most liberal outlook, is to ask yourselves the question, when you have read it through, would you approve of your young sons, young daughters - because girls can read as well as boys - reading this book. Is it a book that you would have lying around in your own house? Is it a book that you would even wish your wife or your servants to read?'

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