Lot 244: MILLER, HENRY. Two Autograph Letters Signed,
September 25, 2008
New York, NY, USA
Description: "I AM ENDEAVORING TO FIND A WAY TO DEFEAT A STUPID CENSORSHIP" MILLER, HENRY. Two Autograph Letters Signed, to his lawyer and friend Samuel S. Goldberg. The first, proposing two ways to publish his banned books and asking whether doing so would violate the law. 1 1/4 pages, 4to; folds. The second, thanking him for his reply and noting "that 'the four freedoms' won't help a god-damn bit. We need a ninth or a 15th freedom, it seems to me--or--just freedom, what?" 1/2 page, 4to; folds. With the original envelope. Big Sur, 3 July; 31 September 1944
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From the first letter: "Would you please tell me if I would be within the law in publishing the banned books with blank spaces for censorable words or phrases, assuming that in the fly leaf it read after this fashion: ''If you are curious about the blank spaces write the author.'' . . . I would send him a printed slip giving words or phrases deleted. . . .
"If the above plan is not viable, what of this--? State in the fly-leaf that [the] book is for the serious adult reader only . . . , that blanks were left in order not to incriminate the printer. . . . I would, upon request, write in the missing words in my own hand . . . and thus assume all responsibilities myself.
"In short, I am endeavoring to find a way to defeat a stupid censorship while remaining within the law. Will it work?"
with--Samuel S. Goldberg. Typed Letter, unsigned, a carbon copy of the letter replying to Miller''s proposals: "Frankly, as a lawyer, I would veto the proposals . . . . The criminal law appears to be a lot stronger than many people think. . . .
". . . The vicious part of the law is rather the elastic way in which Courts define the word ''Obscene''. I wish I could say that a stupid law can be beaten."