Bookleggers and Smuthounds  

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Bookleggers and Smuthounds: The Trade in Erotica, 1920-1940 (1999) by Jay A. Gertzman is history book on US East Coast 20th century erotica. It was published by the University of Pennsylvania.



Between the two world wars, at a time when both sexual repression and sexual curiosity were commonplace, New York was the center of the erotic literature trade in America. The market was large and contested, encompassing not just what might today be considered pornographic material but also sexually explicit fiction of authors such as James Joyce, Theodore Dreiser, and D.H. Lawrence; mail-order manuals; pulp romances; and "little dirty comics."

Bookleggers and Smuthounds vividly brings to life this significant chapter in American publishing history, revealing the subtle, symbiotic relationship between the publishers of erotica and the moralists who attached them—and how the existence of both groups depended on the enduring appeal of prurience. By keeping intact the association of sex with obscenity and shameful silence, distributors of erotica simultaneously provided the antivice crusaders with a public enemy.

Jay Gertzman offers unforgettable portrayals of the "pariah capitalists" who shaped the industry, and of the individuals, organizations, and government agencies that sought to control them. Among the most compelling personalities we meet are the notorious publisher Samuel Roth, "the Prometheus of the Unprintable," and his nemesis, John Sumner, head of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, a man aggressive in his pursuit of pornographers and in his quest for a morally united—and ethnically homogeneous—America.


In the 1920s and 1930s, when sexually explicit books and magazines and their illustrations, not the Internet and video cassettes, were considered a chief corrupting influence in American homes, censorious authorities pointed suspiciously at booksellers of widely varying types.

Key Phrases - Statistically Improbable Phrases (SIPs)

erotica dealers, erotica distributors, banned erotica, preventive societies, sex pulps, erotica merchants, vice suppressor, antivice societies, pariah capitalists, protested books, middleman minority theories, decoy letters, erotic folklore, sexually explicit books, federal censorship, obscenity legislation, pariah capitalism, erotic classics, periodical letters, vice crusader, erotic books, sporting books, obscene books, purity societies, sexual reticence

Key Phrases - Capitalized Phrases (CAPs)

New York, Samuel Roth, John Sumner, Esar Levine, Frank Harris, Publishers Weekly, Jews Must Live, Fifth Avenue, Morris Ernst, United States, William Faro, Sam Roth, Gershon Legman, Gotham Book Mart, Panurge Press, Thomas Seltzer, Clement Wood, Fanny Hill, Ben Rebhuhn, Falstaff Press, Fourth Avenue, Postal Service, Casanova's Homecoming, Dunster House, First Amendment

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Bookleggers and Smuthounds" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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