In the Realm of the Censors
The exhibition displayed Australian and international publications and official records, which once had a life of their own, out and about in the world, circulating via bookstores and sex shops, on the street and through the mail. Then they were bought, seized or submitted to censorship authorities for research, review, classification or possible prosecution — eventually finding themselves in the State archives collection.
Portnoy’s Complaint, the novel by US author Philip Roth, has been described as 'the most controversial banned book in the early 1970s'. The political and legal battles set in motion by its classification as a prohibited import in 1969 finally led to its release in 1971 and, ultimately, the decision by the New South Wales government not to prosecute novels which claimed literary merit. As a result many books which had been banned, were released for the first time, and, today, the notion of literary merit is written into the Classification Act.