Story of O

Randa links to Manohla Dargis’s review of a documentary film about L’histoire d’O/The Story of O, which was pseudonymously written by Dominique Aury. I remember clearly the saffron-colored paperback edition, which I read when I was 13 or 14, an age at which I don’t advise tackling bondage-heavy material. (My parents, bless their hearts, never looked twice at what we were reading, so long as it was a book.)

More than a quarter century later, Aury at last owned up to being the author of “Story of O” to the British journalist John de St. Jorre, who was writing a book on the publishing house Olympia Press. (Olympia published “dirty books” with titles like “Tender Was My Flesh” and such literary lech as Henry Miller.) Aury died four years later at age 90. By then sadomasochism, or at least its degraded pantomime, had been folded into the pop-cultural vernacular; bondage and domination had its own online community; and serious female authors were confessing hitherto forbidden pleasures for an apparently insatiable market. Whether all this huffing and puffing has done anything to liberate the second sex remains a topic of debate that is just one of this film’s many missed opportunities.

Olympia was also, I believe, the first publisher of Lolita.