The Cautious Amorist
The Cautious Amorist was banned in Australia from May 1933 to October 1953, with the authorities citing both indecency and blasphemy.
A story of three men and a young woman cast away on a Pacific island, it explored "the effects of shipwreck on maidenly modesty, ministerial morals, and masculine rivalry" and the battle of the sexes which ensued - a battle from which our heroine Sadie emerged more or less triumphant.
The Cautious Amorist was a best-seller in the UK and the US, but not many Australians have read it. In banning it for twenty years the authorities pretty much denied Lindsay his Australian readership.
By the time the ban was lifted in 1953, the reasons for the original ban seemed quite innocent:
"The four had diarrhoea from eating unripe fruit; there was a modest reference to abortion; there was a play on the word 'periods' and so on".
Freedom Then, Freedom Now
The Cautious Amorist is one of many collection items to be featured in SLQ’s latest exhibition, Freedom Then, Freedom Now which runs from 5 May until 19 November 2017 at the State Library of Queensland.
Freedom then, Freedom Now is an intriguing journey into our recent past exploring the freedoms enjoyed and restricted in Queensland and examines what happens when collective good intersects with individual rights. Freedoms often depend on age, racial or religious background, gender, income and where you live. Freedoms change over time and with public opinion. This exhibition draws on the extensive collections of SLQ to reminisce, reflect on and explore freedoms lost and won in Queensland.
State Library of Queensland Collections
SLQ has copies of several of the different editions of The Cautious Amorist, including the first U.S. edition from 1932 and the first U.K. edition from 1934. Later publishers tried to update the look of the cover, although none surpassed the charm of the author's original illustrations.
Hetherington, John. Norman Lindsay. (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1969)
Holt, Patricia. 'It's Enough to Drive a Bloke Mad' Norman Lindsay's Art and Literature. in BSANZ bulletin, v.27, no. 1 & 2, 2003. p. 62-81
Moore, Nicole. The Censor's Library. (University of Queensland Press, 2011)