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The Devil Rides Outside book coverThe Devil Rides Outside

by John Howard Griffin


ebook, 515 pages

Available only as an ebook. Get The Devil Rides Outside at:
[Barnes & Noble Nook]
ePub ISBN: 978-1-60940-138-2
Kindle ISBN: 978-1-60940-139-9
Library PDF ISBN: 978-1-60940-140-5

The Devil Rides Outside is a study of the struggle between faith and temptation, a "raw, sprawling work that seems to have sprouted like a mushroom in the garden of Texas letters." Issued by a fledgling Fort Worth publisher, The Devil Rides Outside received surprising attention for a first novel by an unknown. Reviews were mixed. "Most of the novel's sound and fury is bound up with the medieval notion that sex is the domain of Satan," complained the Atlantic Monthly, but the noted literary critic Maxwell Geismar was impressed. He called the book one of the best novels of the decade and dubbed its author a Texas Balzac."

The Legion for Decent Literature, a Catholic organization, succeeded in getting The Devil Rides Outside banned in Detroit on the grounds that it was unfit for children and adolescents. While little in the book would shock a contemporary reader, the novel was daring for the fifties. It contains a pair of passages that describe in exactly the same language sexual climax and spiritual rapture. Postwar censorship laws were a welter of local and state statutes, many of which, despite the historic 1934 circuit court ruling on Ulysses, still banned whole works based on isolated passages. In the spring of 1954 the book's paperback publisher, Pocket Books, arranged to challenge the Detroit ban. A bookstore manager was arrested for selling a copy to a police inspector; the court convicted, the bookseller appealed, and Butler v. Michigan began a two and-a-half-year march to the Supreme Court.

On February 25, 1957 ... the Supreme Court of the United States unanimously struck down the Michigan law banning The Devil Rides Outside. Speaking for the Court, Justice Felix Frankfurter wrote, "The state insists that, by thus quarantining the general reading public against books not too rugged for grown men and women in order to shield juvenile innocence it is exercising its power to promote the general welfare. Surely this is to burn the house to roast the pig."The decision effectively reversed an 1868 British ruling that for almost a century had remained the principal guide to Anglo-American jurisprudence on censorship and obscenity.

Quoted from: American Heritage Magazine, February, 198 9 (Vol. 40, No. 1). See

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