Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Post No. 127a: 1959, a Year, per George Will, that Changed Much

It may surprise some that we were big fans of William F. Buckley, and we are major fans of George Will. While we may not always agree with their positions on various subjects, we can always be assured that their written work will be clear, their positions well-articulated, and their analysis will stimulate thought on our part.

The following is an excerpt taken from a recent article by Mr. Will. The title varies throughout the world, depending on the particular publication. However, he considered 1959 as a year which changed much in the world.

WASHINGTON - Fifty years ago, on July 21, 1959, Grove Press won permission to publish D.H. Lawrence's novel, "Lady Chatterley's Lover." Two days later, G.D. Searle, the pharmaceutical company, sought government approval for Enovid, the birth control pill. These two events, both welcome, were, however, pebbles that presaged the avalanche that swept away America's culture of restraint and reticence.

To view the remainder, simply click here. (Simply cancel the print dialog box if it appears.)


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. To my way of thinking, a more pivotal year was 1957, the year in which both Jack Kerouac's novel On the Road and Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged were published. The former greatly influenced those who gave rise to the counter-culture of the 'sixties and all that followed from that; while the latter greatly influenced the neocon mindset that has so poisoned our national experience since the birth of Reaganism.
    With regard to the birth of the counter-culture, the watershed year was 1965. It peaked fast, in 1967, began a precipitous decline by the following year--the year of assassinations and despair--and had degenerated into nothing more than an out-of-date, commercially co-opted, fashion statement by 1975.
    (Listen to George Will when he talks about baseball.)

  3. Thanks Rodak. Your comments always stimulate further thought.

  4. “A culture of restraint and reticence….”

    Our European and South American friends and colleagues have long spoken of American prudishness, at least in certain areas related to sex.

    We looked up some information regarding both novels. Both “Lady Chatterley’s Lover
    and “An American Tragedy” (on which the film “A Place in the Sun,” starring Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift, and Shelley Winters is based), are out of the late 1920s.

    Why do you think that it took so long for the restraints on these two literary works to be lifted? Did the government have any role in the restrictions applied? Perhaps through the enforcement of obscenity laws? Was that “government intervention” of a sort? Apart from perhaps protecting minors, should the government be involved, in any way, in the regulation of what we read or view? Is there an argument to be made that the “free market” should be allowed to operate and government should not be involved, and that discerning consumers be allowed to make their own decisions?

  5. I think rodak is correct about 1957... in an "intellectual sea change" type of thing. I have to agree with Will about 1959 in terms of a popular culture impact.

    And it was 1939 that might have been the moral watershed year. After all, that was the year that the word "damn" was first uttered on film.

    It is often difficult to determine just what triggers a major change in a culture. What occurs as almost insignificant incidents in one year may spawn major changes in many years later.

  6. Thanks much Douglas for weighing in. An argument could most definitely be made regarding 1939, particularly with respect to its importance in connection with World War II.

  7. Tonight, at 11:00 pm EDST, C-Span2 Book TV will air a book discussion featuring Fred Kaplan, about his book 1959. The program is entitled, "1959, the Year Everything Changed."

  8. Today, Sunday, at 6:00 pm EDST, C-Span2 Book TV will once again air the book discussion featuring Fred Kaplan, discussing his book "1959." The program is entitled, "1959, the Year Everything Changed." Simply click on "1959" in the preceding comment by Inspector Closeau for further details.

  9. Thanks Rodak. Your comments always stimulate further thought.


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