By Jay A. Gertzman
“Scholars and citizens with an interest in modern literature and the struggle for frank expression and publication of candid material in a free society will be captivated by Samuel Roth: Infamous Modernist. I believe every library should own a copy; it’s a must-acquire. For those fascinated by the shadow world of clandestine publishing and modern lit. in the U.S. it’s a must-read.” – Booktryst: A Nest for Booklovers
“Gertzman makes an excellent case for giving Roth his due. With his numerous publishing house and book clubs, Roth epitomized the motto ‘publish and be damned.'” – Woody Haut’s Blog: A Weblog Dedicated to Noir Fiction and Film, Music, Poetry and Politics
Long before lawsuits against Napster and the music industry’s struggle to overcome piracy, Samuel Roth was busy bringing banned literary works such as Lady Chatterly’s Lover and Ulysses, complete with all their racy passages, to the American public. At the time, works deemed obscene could not be copyrighted, but although Roth’s actions weren’t technically illegal, they violated protocols of fair dealing between publishers and authors. It sparked an international debate about copyright and raised controversial issues about censorship – dialogues that continue to evolve today.
In addition to his role as a literary pirate, Roth also wrote poetry when he wasn’t serving time in prison on obscenity charges. His own work often considers the experience of immigrant Jews. In this biography, Jay A. Gertzman pays much-deserved attention to a man who was a great deal more than a purveyor of smut.
Listen to an interview with author Jay A. Gertzman on the Diet Soap podcast, to hear more about Samuel Roth, a controversial champion of high modernism.