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Story of O by Pauline Reage first edition 1965

Story of O by Pauline Reage first edition 1965


London: The Olympia Press, [1965]


Small 8vo., black publisher’s boards, lettered in silver to spine; in the simple yet effective dust jacket designed by Ian Lee; black endpapers; pp. [iv], 5-208; a near-fine, tight copy, very lightly spotted to just one small portion of the outer edge, along the top corner; slightly compressed to head; with only minor creasing to the dust jacket, and ever-so-slightly toned to upper edge of front panel; a lovely example, otherwise. 


First British edition of this pinnacle of erotic fiction, praised by Harold Pinter as ‘A remarkable piece of work’ and Graham Greene as a rare thing: ‘a pornographic book well written and without a trace of obscenity’. 


The Story of O first appeared in mysterious circumstances in Paris, 1954, when it was picked up by the Olympia Press. Réage was the pen-name for Anne Desclos, who was born in Rochefort in 1907 and worked as a translator of several works of English fiction, including novels written by Evelyn Waugh and Virginia Woolf. An essay ‘A Slaves’ Revolt’ by Jean Paulhan, Desclos’ lover, appears here by way of Epilogue. 


It was perhaps Paulhan who was responsible for the Story of O coming into existence. He had remarked to Desclos that no woman was capable of writing an erotic novel - she certainly proved him wrong, and the book became an immediate success, though many suspected the writer to be male. 


Perhaps unsurprisingly, the book became subject of an obscenity trial, which resulted in a publicity ban and restrictions on the book’s sale. 

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