Cover image for Bookleggers and smuthounds : the trade in erotica, 1920-1940
Bookleggers and smuthounds : the trade in erotica, 1920-1940
Gertzman, Jay A.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
418 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HQ472.U6 G47 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



A Wing and a Prayer

When irrepressible angels Shirley, Goodness, and Mercy set out for the City of Angels to grant three rush Christmas prayer requests, they are sure they can help without resorting to, er, divine intervention. But they soon find it will take more than one miracle to teach their precious lessons of love--as well as make three special holiday dreams come true!

Author Notes

Jay A. Gertzman is Professor of English at Mansfield University.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Gertzman's highly readable narrative details a neglected part of early-20th-century US publishing history--the large market in erotica. A variety of factors contributed to what Gertzman (literature, Mansfield Univ.) terms "the eroticization of leisure time" in the interwar period--the rise of radio and film, improvements in printing technology, urbanization, social mobility, popularization of Freudian psychology, Prohibition. The author argues that publishers of erotica and their attackers existed in a complex, symbiotic relationship that furthered the interests of both. Gertzman devotes chapters to the men and women who printed, published, and distributed erotic literature and to organizations that censored erotic literature, from Boston's Watch and Ward Society to the US Post Office. The most lively of these accounts concerns Samuel Roth--"Prometheus of the unprintable," who failed in his attempts to frame erotica in terms of free expression--and Roth's enemy John Saxton Sumner, head of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice. Given Gertzman's convincing argument that thorough knowledge of the publishing history of this period will lead to better understanding of the modern eroticized culture, this book should prove useful not only to those interested in publishing history and erotic/pulp fiction, but also to students of sexuality and cultural studies. Undergraduates, graduates, and faculty. H. A. Booth; SUNY at Buffalo

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
1. Traders in Prurience: Pariah Capitalists and Moral Entrepreneursp. 15
2. "Sex O'Clock in America": Who Bought What, Where, How, and Whyp. 49
3. "Hardworking American Daddy": John Saxton Sumner and the New York Society for the Suppression of Vicep. 103
4. "Fifth Avenue Has No More Rights Than the Bowery": Taste and Class in Obscenity Legislationp. 135
5. "Your Casanova Is Unmailable": Mail-Order Erotica and Postal Service Guardians of Public Moralsp. 179
6. The Two Worlds of Samuel Roth: Man of Letters and Entrepreneur of Eroticap. 219
Epiloguep. 283
Notesp. 309
Selected Bibliographyp. 381
Acknowledgmentsp. 397
Indexp. 401