Barry Reay and Nina Attwood

Nov 10, 2023

Dirty Books

Erotic Fiction and the Avant-garde in Mid-century Paris and New York

Manchester University Press 2023

From the 1930s to the 1970s, in New York and in Paris, daring publishers and writers were producing banned pornographic literature. The books were written by young, impecunious writers, poets, and artists, many anonymously. Most of these pornographers wrote to survive, but some also relished the freedom to experiment that anonymity provided - men writing as women, and women writing as men - and some (Anaïs Nin, Henry Miller) went on to become influential figures in modernist literature.

Barry Reay and Nina Attwood's Dirty Books: Erotic Fiction and the Avant-garde in Mid-century Paris and New York (Manchester UP, 2023) tells the stories of these authors and their remarkable publishers: Jack Kahane of Obelisk Press and his son Maurice Girodias of Olympia Press, whose catalogue and repertoire anticipated that of the more famous US publisher Grove Press. It offers a humorous and vivid snapshot of a fascinating moment in pornographic and literary history, uncovering a hidden, earlier history of the sexual revolution, when the profits made from erotica helped launch the careers of literary cult figures.

Nina Attwood is the author of The Prostitute's Body: Rewriting Prostitution in Victorian England (2011) and a co-author of Sex Addiction: A Critical History (2015)

Morteza Hajizadeh is a Ph.D. graduate in English from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. His research interests are Cultural Studies; Critical Theory; Environmental History; Medieval (Intellectual) History; Gothic Studies; 18th and 19th Century British Literature. YouTube channel. Twitter.

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Morteza Hajizadeh

Morteza Hajizadeh is a Ph.D. graduate in English from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. His research interests are Cultural Studies; Critical Theory; Environmental History; Medieval (Intellectual) History; Gothic Studies; 18th and 19th Century British Literature. YouTube channel. Twitter.

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