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The Story of O, with an Essay by Jean Paulhan
Olympia Press 1954, Paris - 187 pp. The scarce fiirst edition in purple wraps of the unauthorised first English translation, rushed to appear the same time as the first French edition. The following is a translation of the text which appeared in a recent Christie's sale for one of the few copies of this book that has recently appeared on the market - in Gerard Nordmann's collection of erotica. 'The publishing house Olympia Press was founded in 1953 by Maurice Girodias, the son of Jack Kahane, editor of the novels of Henry Miller and Georges Pelorson-Belmont. Girodias followed in his father's footsteps by publishing erotic texts, but also published Beckett, Miller, Durrell, Burroughs and Nabokov, as well as English translations of works by Jean Genet. But the publication of 'The Story of O', which he had translated into English, wasn't exactly a success, and became a bone of contention (or 'une pomme de discorde') between Girodias and his friend Jean-Jacques Pauvert, both as broke as each other at the time and sharing a flat on the rue Nesle. "I had sent him my manuscript before bringing out my edition', wrote Pauvert. 'However, I discovered that he had rushed out a translation in two months and that he was releasing this at the same time as me.' In fact, the translation by Baird Bryant (whose name doesn't appear) was pretty faulty. The title of the preface by Jean Paulhan, 'Le Bonheur dans l'Esclavage' [happiness in bondage/slavery] was translated as 'A Slaves' Revolt'. Dominique Aury, a translator herself, was, according to Pauvert, devastated. "This translation horrified me. It is particularly vulgar and totally cheapens the character of the book. It is out of the question that it be released.' But the anonymous author didn't have the means to oppose Girodias, nevertheless, he did have the book re-translated two years later by Austryn Wainhouse, but under a new title, 'The wisdom of the lash'. An 'official' American edition was finally published by Barney Rossett (Grove Press) in 1966, with a third translation, by Sabine d'Estree (another pseudonym, this time of Richard Seaver). The present translation, faulty though it is, is the one that first got the book known among the anglophones of Paris, then more widely, among American intellectuals. The indecent haste of Girodias to have this book published, at the very least attests that he had appreciated the importance of this book and wasn't to be stopped from publishing it - if possible before anyone else. The wraps are in good condition, though there are some faded strips on the rear panel, where the sun has hit the patches exposed beyond the smaller book that obviously lived next to it, as well as fading to the spine. The cover is rubbed along the extremities and a little chipped at the head and tail of the spine, but still an attractive copy of this very scarce book in its purple wraps. 211c [Attributes: First Edition; Soft Cover]
      [Bookseller: Stephen Foster - ABA ILAB & ibooknet]
Last Found On: 2014-10-10           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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