18 November 2014
REAGE, Pauline (pseudonym of Anne Desclos, 1907-1998). Histoire d'O. Preface by Jean Paulhan. [Paris:] Jean-Jacques Pauvert, 1954.
Octavo (184 x 115mm). Etched vignette by Bellmer on the title page. Red half morocco by Gauché, signed, with the original yellow printed wrappers bound-in, black morocco spine label gilt (spine lightly and evenly faded).
FIRST EDITION OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL EROTIC TEXT OF THE 20TH CENTURY. One of only 600 copies, this one with the fine Bellmer etching found in less than half of the edition. Desclos began Histoire d'O as a private lover letter to Jean Paulhan, a towering literary figure, in part to keep the attention of her lover, in part responding to his quip that women were incapable of writing erotica. Proven wrong, Paulhan urged her to publish, and took the manuscript to Pauvert who, after an overnight reading, exclaimed 'it's marvellous, it'll spark a revolution'. Histoire d'O became an unqualified commercial success. The identity of its author caused intense speculation, many doubting that it could be the work of a woman, let alone the demure and bookish Desclos, who denied authorship for four decades. In February 1955 Histoire d'O won the literature prize 'Prix des Deux Magots', which did not stop French authorities from bringing obscenity charges against the publisher. These were dropped, but a publicity ban was imposed for a number of years. Number 471 of 480 on vergé paper. Cf. Pia Enfer, 634.
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