From the end of the nineteenth century through the middle of the twentieth, Paris was a center for the publication of numerous English-language books,...

From the end of the nineteenth century through the middle of the twentieth, Paris was a center for the publication of numerous English-language books, including many of a sexually explicit, pornographic nature. Colette Colligan‘s new book, A Publisher’s Paradise: Expatriate Literary Culture in Paris, 1890-1960 (University of Massachusetts Press, 2014) explores the rich and fascinating history of these “Paris editions” across seven decades of literary publishing in France, in English. Troubling too-simplistic notions of British prudishness versus French sexual liberalism and “high” versus “low” literatures, Colligan’s book makes a significant contribution to our understanding of Paris’s expatriate past, a past that remains part of the city’s mythology to this day.

The book includes discussion of the cultural, legal, and commercial sides of this story, as well as closer textual analyses of some key examples of “degraded” and high modernist literature. In its chapters, readers will be introduced to characters and works that may not be so well known, including the British expatriate publisher Charles Carrington (whose publishing credits include Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray in 1908). In addition to illuminating the lives of lesser known figures and texts, A Publisher’s Paradise also situates the history of “dirty books” published in the French capital to literary legends Sylvia Beach (the owner of the Parisian landmark English-language bookstore Shakespeare and Co. and publisher of James Joyce’s Ulysses in 1922) and Vladimir Nabokov (whose novel Lolita was first published by Maurice Girodias’ Olympia Press in Paris in 1955). The book will be a rewarding read to anyone interested in the histories of publishing, pornography, and/or Parisian cultural life.

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