The Seven Minutes
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The Seven Minutes is a novel by Irving Wallace on the subject of pornography and freedom of speech in the United States of the late 1960s. It is about a fictional obscenity trial of a banned book, The Seven Minutes, purported to be the thoughts in a woman's mind during seven minutes of sexual intercourse.
Although Wallace's book was originally printed in 1969, it reflects constitutional debates that rage in the post-9/11 United States. As the main character in "The Seven Minutes" considered whether to take up a defense of a sexually explicit book banned in his community, he lamented that "[w]e have placed security in a position of primacy and subordinated individual liberty to it" (p. 128, Pocket edition, 1970). He decided to defend the book because he concluded that taking away any author's right to free speech overstepped society's rights by trampling on individual civil liberties; if allowed to stand, it would be the first in a series of such injustices that would eventually mute all men, completely subverting the Bill of Rights.
Wallace's extensively researched work contains numerous (attributed) quotes and presents well-supported arguments for both sides of his fictional debate. More than 40 years later, readers of "The Seven Minutes" will recognize familiar arguments from the news today as Americans continue to debate whether governmental actions to secure public safety have encroached unconstitutionally on individual rights.
Maurice Girodias of the Olympia Press, who was interviewed by Wallace during research for his book, published a novel, The Original Seven Minutes, purporting to be the fictitious book described in Wallace's novel. Following legal action by Wallace, the book was withdrawn, and later repulished as The Seven Erotic Minutes with the purported author's name and all references to Wallace removed.