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The Olympia Reader: Selections From The Traveller's Companion Series

The Olympia Reader: Selections From The Traveller's Companion Series By Maurice Girodias
English | Grove Press (1965) | ISBN-10: 1299977642 | 725 pages | PDF | 115 MB

“ Olympia Press was a Paris-based publisher, launched in 1953 by Maurice Girodias as a rebranded version of the Obelisk Press he inherited from his father Jack Kahane. It published a mix of erotic fiction and avant-garde literary fiction, and is best known for the first print of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita. ”

It specialized in books which could not be published (without legal action) in the English-speaking world, and correctly assumed that the French, who were unable to read the books, and were more sexually tolerant, would leave them alone. They were books to buy if your travels took you through Paris. Ninety-four Olympia Press publications were promoted and packaged as "Traveller's Companion" books, usually with simple text-only covers, and each book in the series was numbered. The "Ophelia Press" line of erotica was far larger, using the same design, but pink covers instead of green. Olympia Press was the first publisher willing to print William S. Burroughs's avant-garde, sexually explicit Naked Lunch, which soon became famous. Other notable works included J. P. Donleavy's The Ginger Man; Samuel Beckett's French trilogy Molloy, Malone Dies, and The Unnamable; Henry Miller's trilogy The Rosy Crucifixion, consisting of Sexus, Nexus and Plexus; A Tale of Satisfied Desire by Georges Bataille; Story of O by Pauline RГ©age; Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg's Candy; and a critical book on Scientology, Inside Scientology/Dianetics by Robert Kaufman. The South African poet Sinclair Beiles was an editor at the publisher. Other authors included Alexander Trocchi, Iris Owens (Harriet Daimler) and John Stevenson (Marcus Van Heller). Girodias had troubled dealings with his authors including copyright issues; Nabokov was not satisfied with the publisher and its reputation, and another long-running dispute over the rights to The Ginger Man ended with Donleavy's then-wife Mary buying out Girodias at what was intended to be a closed auction. Having to leave France because he managed to annoy powerful people, Girodias briefly reestablished Olympia Press in New York in the 1960s, and in London in the early 1970s. Grove Press in the U.S. would later print The Olympia Reader, a best-selling anthology containing material from some of Olympia's most popular works, including material by Burroughs, Miller, Trocchi and others. Another well-known collection was The Best of Olympia, first published by the Olympia Press in 1963 and reprinted by New English Library in 1966. Other incarnations of the company, some with Girodias' support, emerged in Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Olympia Press has been re-established and is currently operating out of Washington, London, and Frankfurt.

I was always a big fan of American publishers like Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Barney Rossett for their role in liberating and promoting subversive literature in America. I
am sure that many deplore the famed publisher Rossett who introduced "Tropic of Cancer" and "Naked Lunch" and "Lady Chatterly's Lover" to American readers. These are
people who will probably not appreciate the importance of a book like "The Olympia Reader". Maurice Girodias was the founder of the Olympia Press. This French publisher was responsible for the first publication of many literary icons. Girodias followed in the footsteps of his father Jack Kahane who founded the Obelisk Press in the 30's. Kahane, it
should be noted, is famed for discovering Henry Miller. The Olympia Press was a shoestring operation and labor of love for Girodias. These paperbacks were put out as The Traveller's Companion series. Girodias also faced censorship pressure in France. Luckily for us, he was able to put so much work out in spite these problems. He published writers like Raymond Queneau, Paline ReagГ© and Jean Genet among others. (It should be noted that he published the first version of Nabakov's "Lolita" but Nabakov refused permission for reprint in this book.) Publishing banned English books was a grand scheme for making money. The 'not to be sold in USA or Britain' category was a surefire way to spark sales. American G.I.s snapped them up with a passion. This book collects samples from this extraordinary press. It includes excerpts from books like "The Ginger Man" by J.P. Donleavy, "My Life and Loves" by Frank Harris, "The Black Book" by Lawrence Durrell, "Naked Lunch", de Sade's "Justine" and many more. It is a retrospective of an amazing moment in literary history. Girodias deserves much merit in the annals of Twentieth Century literature. This reader merely scratches the surface but it is a good introductory volume for readers of erotica and subversive literature. It would make a good starting point for a person interested in the stuff that doesn't get taught in schools which is truly the stuff that needs to be read.

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