In the West we take for granted our right to read virtually any book we choose but it was not always so. Although there are still obscenity laws on books today, they are rarely invoked, and we owe our freedoms in this area to the publishers who fought this battle on our behalf: publishers such as Maurice Girodias, the founder of the Olympia Press. The Olympia Press published numerous books that have become icons of twentieth-century literature. Following in the footsteps of his father, Jack Kahane, Girodias quickly established his literary credentials, publishing Beckett’s Watt, Nabokov’s Lolita, and Burroughs’ The Naked Lunch, among others. At the other end of the scale were profitable ‘dirty books’ such as White Thighs and The Sexual Life of Robinson Crusoe, written by impoverished expatriates under ludicrous pseudonyms (including Christopher Logue’s ‘Count Palmiro Vicarion’). Written by an Olympia book-smuggler turned bibliographer, The Paris Olympia Press provides an excellent account of the Press, its books and its authors, and includes a full bibliography, an overview of censorship laws and a foreword by the late Maurice Girodias. Kearney’s work will provide an invaluable resource for all bibliophiles and especially for collectors of Olympia Press books.
Patrick Kearney runs the Scissors and Paste Bibliographies website and is the author of A History of Gothic Literature, Macmillan
Censor-defying literary salacity.
239 x 163 mm
December 1, 2007