Maurice Girodias : biography
Other famous titles published in the Traveller’s Companion Series were Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, The Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs, a translation of Story of O by Pauline Réage, and Candy by Mason Hoffenberg and Terry Southern.
Olympia imprints included Ophir Books, The Ophelia Press, Othello Books.
The Ginger Man
Girodias, very much against Donleavy’s intention, published The Ginger Man as pornography. He seemed unable to grasp the literary merit of the work. When he did belatedly understand that he had a brilliant and original book, instead of acknowledging this, he tried to steal the rights from the author. Girodias and Donleavy sued each other back and forth for a period of 20 years following the publication of The Ginger Man. This litigation continued, even after Girodias’ bankruptcy, when at auction Donleavy’s wife bought the rights to the Olympia Press.
Analysis of the original manuscript for The Ginger Man shows, in Donleavy’s words, "a few major blunders and distinctly misplaced paragraphs and an odd misprint here and there, but the work with these exceptions had meticulously followed the manuscript". Donleavy won almost every case, though it was an expensive ordeal for both parties.
A complicated arrangement accorded the Olympia Press roughly one-third of the royalties for Lolita after the novel’s breakthrough success in America. However, Girodias lost this share when he failed to pay Nabokov on time for the French royalties.
Girodias was born Maurice Kahane in Paris, France, the son of Manchester-born Jack Kahane and a French heiress, Marcelle (née Girodias). His father was Jewish and his mother was Catholic.http://dongxi.net/b11tR/printhttp://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1966/may/12/pornography/?pagination=false Girodias lived a relatively idyllic childhood, until the Depression forced his father to take up a new profession in Paris, namely publishing risqué books in English for the consumption of foreign tourists, who because of censorship could not obtain such materials at home. French censorship laws had a loophole allowing English works to be published without domestic confiscation.
Kahane’s venture (Girodias later took his mother’s birth name to hide his partially Jewish background from the Nazis) was called the Obelisk Press. It published notorious works by Frank Harris, Henry Miller and Anaïs Nin, as well as several pieces of light erotica written by Kahane himself.
Girodias’s involvement with his father’s business started early. In 1934, at the age of 15, Girodias drew the disturbing crab picture seen on the original cover of Tropic of Cancer. After his father’s early death in 1939, Girodias took over publishing duties, and at the age of 20 managed to survive Paris, World War II, Occupation and paper shortages.
After the war, with his brother Eric Kahane, Girodias expanded operations, publishing Zorba the Greek (in French) and Henry Miller’s Sexus, among other texts. The latter volume touched off a firestorm in France, with trials and arrests for obscenity. The Affaire Miller ended with Girodias out of jail, but bankrupt and no longer in control of his company.
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