Vale Bob Gould

'The Peacock Skirt', one Aubrey Beardsley illustration which did *not* land Bob Gould in legal hot water, via WikiCommons

'The Peacock Skirt', one Aubrey Beardsley illustration which did not land Bob Gould in legal hot water, via WikiCommons

Booklovers across Sydney, and especially in the city’s inner eastern suburbs, will have been saddened this weekend by news of the passing of Bob Gould. Gould, owner of Gould’s Book Arcade in Newtown (his twelfth bookshop), was a stalwart of the trade, as well as one of its more colourful identities. After spending some time as a full-time anti-Vietnam War activist, Gould opened his first store in 1967. Described as “the archetypal political activist”, he continued his rabble-rousing ways, writing prolifically and testing the limits of obscenity laws. He ran foul of the authorities several times for stocking what was then seen as objectionable material - including the erotica of Aubrey Beardsley and Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint, which was initially banned in Australia. In fact, Gould claimed to have been arrested 12 or 15 times.

In a Sydney Morning Herald report, his daughter Natalie said her father was dismayed by the current state of the political left in Australia. ‘'One of the last things he said to me was that the Labor Party was falling apart and destroying itself.’‘ Bob Gould died after falling in his bookshop. He was 74.

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