[illus. FINI, Leonor] [intro. PAULHAN, Jean] [pseud. DESCLOS, An

Histoire d'O

Paris: Aux Dépens De La Compagnie Des Bibliophiles, 1962

Folio, 184 pp. in loose signatures. Black velvet slipcase, ivory spine label lettered in gilt. A fine copy, beautifully preserved by its original velvet slipcase.

Copy no. 112 of 350 copies, on Vélin d'Arches. French text.
The Story of O was controversial from the moment it was published in 1954; sixty years on, and more than fifty years after the Lady Chatterley trial consigned literary censorship to history, the book remains one of the very few still able to shock a modern sensibility, and to give some sectors of the anti-censorship lobby pause. This story of a woman's willing and limitless sado-masochistic subjugation to her lover was written pseudonymously, and in 1994 'Pauline Réage' was unmasked as Dominque Aury. Shortly after that, 'Dominique Aury' was discovered to be a pseudonym too, and the book's author was finally identified as Anne Desclos [1907-1998], journalist, translator, and long-time lover of Jean Paulhan, the director of the Nouvelle Revue Francaise, whose essay Happiness In Slavery had provided the preface for the first edition of Histoire d'O some forty years before. (That essay appears in this edition). Paulhan, an aficionado of erotica in general and the Marquis de Sade in particular, had once let drop in Desclos' presence that he did not believe any woman was capable of writing like de Sade. Desclos begged to differ, and her unblinkingly explicit story of sexual enslavement and death has been dividing critics, feminists, and feminist critics ever since.

Leonor Fini [1907-1996], the illustrator of this edition, was an Argentinian painter and designer of the Surrealist school. A proto-feminist, her life was as unconventional as Desclos'. Devoted more to Persian cats than people, she had one husband, very briefly, but spent most of her life in unusual ménages and with a variety of lovers. A photograph of her in a swimming pool taken in 1933 by Henri Cartier-Bresson caused a triple sensation: she was naked; she wasn't married to the photographer; and her pubic area was completely hairless -- the first non-airbrushed Hollywood in photographic history. Fini was a noted portraitist of strong women -- Alida Valli and Anna Magnani were among her notable sitters -- and her illustrations for this book show a perfect rapport with the text, the subjects strong in their subjection.
Easily the most beautiful edition of The Story Of O ever produced, and a notably fine copy.

Keywords: Leonor FINI Pauline REAGE Jean PAULHAN"

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