4 July 2018

Pauline Réage: Histoire d'O (1954; repr. 2012)

The writer of Histoire d'O was a mystery. Jean Paulan (who wrote this Preface, and was certain that the writer was a woman) was himself suggested as the author, along with Henry de Montherlant, André Malraux and André Pieyre de Mandiargues. Dominique Aury, the secretary of the Nouvelle Revue française, was in fact the author, who 'confessed' to this in 1994 at the age of eighty-six. She described it as a 'love letter' to Jean Paulhan, and the book was at the time considered scandalalous due to its sexual content.

Well, it was considered really 'hot', but today I have to admit I found it a huge yawn, and – very rarely for me – found it impossible to finish. It may well be that the atmosphere of Provence (where I was at the time), the heat, the wonderful food and drink prevented me from appreciating a gem of literature. Or perhaps not, so I'll keep an open mind and hold it in reserve for a future date. I note that a number of people managed to get through it, and I don't give up so easily.

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