The Story of ORÉAGE, Pauline (trans. Jean Paulhan)
Paris: The Olympia Press. 1954.
First English Edition. 8vo. (183 by 130mm) pp.187. Original purple card covers. Upper cover has the author, title and publisher printed in black with two white double lines either side of the title and a star design printed in white as a border. Title, author and publisher printed in black on the backstrip. Some shelfwear to the head and foot of the backstrip and to the bottom edge. There has been a small tear to the inner hinge with the ffep (now repaired). The contents are in very good/ near fine condition although with some slight spotting to the edges and to the preliminary pages. Protected by mylar wrapper. Overall this is an excellent copy of the first edition of this erotic classic.
Pauline Réage was one of the pseudonyms (Dominique Aury was the other) of Anne Cecile Desclos. Desclos, born in 1907, was a important and successful literary editor and translator who introduced to French readers a number of English language authors including Waugh, Woolf, Scott Fitzgerald and T.S.Eliot.
Desclos’s lover Jean Paulhan, the editor of the Nouvelle Revue Française (and the translator of Histoire d’O), who was an admirer of the Marquis de Sade thought that a woman could not write an erotic novel. To prove him wrong, Desclos wrote Histoire d'O. It was a huge success due in part, no doubt, to the (very un-French) obscenity charges brought against the publisher and the (unknown) author. Desclos kept her authorship of the book secret until she revealed it in an interview with The New Yorker in 1994.
The attempted ban may have been un-French but there is something beautifully, quintessentially Gallic about two distinguished literary intellectuals combining to produce some top notch filth.