Bank Holiday weekend musings: Maurice Girodias

First, the cover artwork, from which the author's name has been cunningly clipped...

Jailbait wanton!

Next, my chum's (correct) response, and his followup question:

> Clyde Allison.
> Where on earth did you dig him up from??

My answer entails...

... a trip back to Harpenden in the mid-1960s:

The story actually began when I read an article by David Stafford-Clark, who was a doctor and an author. At the age of 17 he was awarded the Gate Poetry Prize, and he went on to publish books of poetry, critical essays, and articles in many magazines. He wrote a study of the aims and impact of Sigmund Freud (What Freud Really Said) and had also been a member of the Archbishop of Canterbury's Commission on Divine Healing; made frequent television appearances; and wrote scripts for radio, TV, and films, including work on John Huston's 1962 film Freud1 (which I've just snaffled on DVD). Huston has not typically been well-represented by DVDs of his work...

Stafford-Clark's article appeared in my parents' "Weekend Telegraph" colour supplement, as these newly-appearing advertisement-stuffed freebies were then called, in or very close to 1966. It was about the "dirty book" publishing operation run by Maurice Girodias2 (in Paris, beginning in 1953) that had in turn risen from the ashes of the pre-war Obelisk Press that had been run by his father, ex-Bengal Lancer Jack Kahane. Of course, with the benefit of hindsight some of Stafford-Clark's musings are now clearly way off-beam3 but you work with what you know at the time, I guess.

Moving along a little to the summer of 1969, in Monte Carlo,4 I found a bookshop near the marina with a set of shelves set aside for some fairly, erm, robust ex-pat reading. I bought, pretty much at random, a bright-pink softcore novel called "Uptight" by one "Carl Ross". Of course, back in Blighty I foolishly lent this to a fellow student, and probably unsurprisingly never saw it again... It was published by the Ophelia Press — an offshoot of the Olympia Press. Fast forward to the Interweb thing. Olympia eventually oozed on to it, and I duly obtained an electronic copy of the Missing Sheep when it showed up.

Today I got one of the very occasional email shots from them, pushing their updated website and marketing strategy. QED



1  I'm morally certain I once had a Pelican (probably "Psychiatry for Students") that he'd written, but that would have been a long time ago during my more intellectually curious phase. (I have to admit I spent the bulk of my time as an engineering student voraciously reading my way through the Polytechnic's library trying virtually anything that wasn't about engineering. A desperate, and ultimately successful, attempt to find a field — any field — more interesting than the (to me) deadly dull world of airframe design.)
2  The whole entertaining (and fascinating) saga of the Olympia Press is beautifully described by John de St Jorre in his 1994 book "The Good Ship Venus".
3  Consider his take on "The Story of O", for example: Girodias has given an illuminating account of the preservation of the anonymity of the author [of The Story of O]. One speculation, which apparently occurred neither to the Paris police nor to Girodias himself, was that Pauline Reage might have been the name of a male masochistic homosexual transvestite. Rather far off the mark. There's a picture of Dominique Aury here. Not to mention Pola Rapaport's 2006 film "Writer of O".
4  Tiny correction: I've just unearthed the diary I kept of that summer trip with what Peter's g/f would doubtless refer to as "the parental units". We were indeed staying in Monte Carlo, having travelled there via Turin (where we had briefly renewed our acquaintance with the family of the lovely young lady I mentioned here whom I'd first met in 1965). But the bookshop itself was actually a few miles down the coast in Monaco. Dad and I went there on both the 15th and 16th July. I noted, among other things, that Lindsay Anderson's "If..." was being screened, probably for the American sailors from the visiting warship, my copy of the International New York Herald Tribune cost me 1 Fr, and I also picked up Quatermass II, Newsweek, Time, and the Telegraph. From about 21:00 on the 20th I watched eight hours of transmissions of the Apollo moon landing on mine Gallic host's little portable TV in the bar of his Mediterranean waterfront Hotel Golfe Bleu. An entirely different story.