The Next Lawrence or Joyce: The Obelisk and Olympia Presses
This brief coda compares two related Parisian anglophone publishers and their most notable publications: Jack Kahane’s Obelisk Press, publisher of Henry Miller’s The Tropic Cancer; and Maurice Girodias’s Olympia Press, publisher of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. It argues that the similarities and differences between these presses, and these novels, illustrate how the “end of obscenity” for books obsolesced the role of the transgressive continental English-language publisher. In both cases, the work published was at odds with how the publisher imagined its role—Miller actively sought to distance himself from the modernism that Kahane took as the justification of his press, whereas Nabokov took exception to being published alongside the pornography that Girodias celebrated. Each captures a tension between modernism, obscenity, and print as a medium.
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