Andres Martinez had to wait two years to find out how Mathilde Madden’s racy novel The Silver Crown ended. That’s because the novel was taken from him by guards at California’s Pelican Bay State Prison, where Martinez is incarcerated, after they judged the book to be pornographic and thus forbidden under prison rules. Now, Martinez can finally find out whether Iris the werewolf hunter can find love with her lycanthrope lover, because he has just won a two-year legal battle to read werewolf erotica in prison.
A San Francisco appeals court has ruled that The Silver Crown, while “perhaps less than Shakespeare,” does not rise to the level of of pornography and, in fact, possesses “serious literary value” and thus cannot be banned under current rules, which bans books with sexual content. In the 1973 case of Miller v California, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a work with literary, political or scientific value cannot be labeled as “obscene.” By outlawing all publications that describe sex, regardless of literary value, Pelican Bay’s rules violated that standard.
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California banned pornographic magazines from prisons in 2002, on the grounds that inmates were using them to create a hostile work environment for female guards. But a court ruled that books that contain sex scenes are exempt from such restrictions. In their 30-page decision, the court noted that in Martinez’s tale of interspecies love, “the sex appears to be between consenting adults. No minors are involved. No bestiality is portrayed (unless werewolves count).” With Silver Crown no longer fitting the definition of obscene, Martinez can now read about the erotic encounters between woman and werewolf to his heart’s content — and fellow inmates can finally explore for themselves the steamy parts of 50 Shades of Grey.
The novel’s author Mathilde Madden – the pseudonym for British journalist Mathilda Gregory – told NPR, “I am thrilled someone has gone to so much trouble to read something I wrote. I hope the book can live up to expectations.”