Translating Sade: the Grove Press Editions, 1953-1968.
Grove Press publisher Barney Rosset saw the publication of Sade's works as integral to his fight for the freedom of the press. After Rosset bought Grove in 1951, he systematically set out to challenge obscenity laws and battle censorship. The press is perhaps best known for its publication of D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover (1959) and Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer (1961). Lady Chatterley's Lover was banned from the mails; Tropic of Cancer was prosecuted as obscene in over sixty court battles from 1961 to 1964 (McCord vii-x). The lawyer Charles Rembar successfully defended the press's right to publish and circulate the works according to the definition of obscenity at the time, established in a 1957 Supreme Court decision known as the Roth opinions, as material appealing to prurient interest that was "utterly without redeeming social importance"; Rembar transformed this into the so-called social-value test, guided by the belief that "importance" imposed a higher standard than "value." (1) In 1958 the Parisian publisher Jean-Jacques Pauvert won a similar, if mitigated, victory in French courts, which allowed his editions of Sade's works--the first complete, modern versions of the author's texts--to continue to circulate in France. (2) In producing translations of Sade, Rosset sought to capitalize on these victories and break new ground. In all, the press published five volumes of writings and criticism pertaining to Sade: The Marquis de Sade: An Essay by Simone de Beauvoir with Selections from His Writings Chosen by Paul Dinnage (1953); Gilbert Lely's The Marquis de Sade, /\ Definitive Biography (trans. Alec Brown, 1962); The Complete Justine, Philosophy in the Bedroom, and Other Writings (trans. Seaver and Wainhouse, 1965); The 120 Days of Sodom and Other Writings (trans. Seaver and Wainhouse, 1966); and Juliette (trans. Wainhouse, 1968). That these editions were not subject to censorship is a testimony to the careful planning and positioning executed by Rosset and the translators--the success of which would prove to be a bit of a letdown for the men, who had anticipated a battle. (3)
The story of the Grove Press translations of Sade, contained in the Grove Press records and the Austryn Wainhouse papers housed in the Special Collections Research Center at Syracuse University Library, reveals the editorial strategies and the behind-the-scenes maneuvering that enabled these texts to be published and to circulate--and which recall those used by authors, printers, and booksellers in Sade's eighteenth-century France. (4) It provides a compelling snapshot of the state of American mores in the 1950s and 1960s, and how Rosset and his translators were able to capitalize on (and contribute to) a shifting cultural climate in order to evolve notions of obscenity, morality, and literary value. Further, it illuminates a key moment of literary and intellectual exchange between France and the United States, when French authors such as Sade played a major role in changing the face of American publishing in the 1960s and, in turn, when American publishing helped solidify the canonization of French authors.5 Grove Press's publication of Sade's writings must be included as a capital moment in the author's critical rehabilitation--begun by the avant-garde in the early 1900s and taken up at various points throughout the twentieth century--that led to the publication of his works in the French canon of canons, the publisher Gallimard's Bibliotheque de la Pleiade (1990-98). (6) In the pages that follow, I reconstruct this story as well as the publishing trajectory it set in motion--one that ultimately affirms and extends Walter Kendrick's and Lynn Hunt's assertions about the political and cultural import of pornography as "an argument, not a thing" whose evolving constitution and definition reflect the articulation and progress of democratic rights and ideals, whether in eighteenth-century France or in civil rights-era America (Kendrick 31; Hunt 11-13, 42-45).
Preparing the Terrain
Grove's publication of Sade's texts was precipitated by the renewal of interest in the author in 1950s France, which followed Pauvert's publication of Sade's complete works beginning in 1947. In "The Vogue of the Marquis de Sade," which appeared in the October 18,1952, edition of the New Yorker, Edmund Wilson praised the recent critical turn in Sade studies--away from "the bias of the Sade cult"--represented by works such as Simone de Beauvoir's 1951-52 essay, "Faut-il bruler Sade?" (163). Wilson called Beauvoir's essay "perhaps the very best thing that has yet been written on the subject" and noted that it seemed to usher in "a new era in the study of Sade" (176). The essay was a seminal one for Rosset and the press, providing both the critical impetus and rhetoric needed to pursue their risky translation project. Rosset began to seek out works "which [merit] publication in this country" by soliciting the opinions of American university professors on Sade as well as other controversial French authors such as Diderot. (7) It was at this time that Rosset also honed in on a parallel project to translate the works of Jean Genet, in which the press deployed many of the same strategies it used in publishing Sade; the appearance (without legal incident) of the Grove translations of Genet's homosexually explicit Our Lady of the Flowers (1963) and The Thief's Journal (1964) undoubtedly smoothed the way for the publication of Sade's hard-core works. In 1953 Rosset began preparing the terrain for Sade's novels by publishing a translation of Beauvoir's critical essay, which focused on Sade's philosophical value, alongside what he termed "mild" selections from the author's texts, a chronology, and a bibliography, compiled and translated by Paul Dinnage. A note in the Grove Press records indicates that this project was a conscious first step. (8) Grove's press release, which featured material from Wilson's essay, emphasized the intellectual aspects of Sade's works, "in which he tried to expose the weaknesses of the common assumptions of eighteenth-century moralists and philosophers and to develop his own theories of a juster morality,' and heralded the volume as "one of the first attempts to make available in English large selections of what the Marquis actually wrote." (9)
Overall, Dinnage chose to translate brief and more philosophical passages from Sade's works, including selections from his unpublished Contes et fabliaux, Eugenie de Franval, Aline et Valcour, as well as from Les Infortunes de la vertu, Les 120 Journees de Sodome, La Philosophie dans le boudoir, and Juliette. In this initial publication, the press itself censored Sade's works not only through the choice of texts (presented in order of ascending offensiveness) but also through the generous use of ellipses and the occasional slippage, such as when "cul" becomes the less vulgar "backside" (Beauvoir 191; Sade, (Euvres 3: 710). Most striking, however, is the decision to keep certain pornographic passages in the original French, marked by italics. The transition between English and French is far from seamless, underlining the status of French as the language of sex and debauchery as well as the privileged status of those who have the knowledge to understand it. The reader is confronted with numerous abrupt jumps between languages--some involving one or two sentences, some involving just one or a few words. This editorial strategy, similarly used in contemporary English translations of classical authors such as Catullus and Martial, demonstrates how the press carefully skirted the line between the passable and the obscene--and how it contributed to blurring it. (10)
Dinnage's translations, or lack thereof, provide a compelling look at which words, acts, and body parts were unmentionable in the early 1950s. In Juliette, small snippets of text are kept in the French, revealing that talk of women's "breasts," "buttocks," and "nipples" was deemed acceptable, but the mention of "godemiche" or "couilles" was definitively not--choices that suggest a (sexist) double standard in terms of the limits of depicting the female and male anatomies and the relative banality of the eroticized female body at the time, a cultural atmosphere captured and propelled by the founding of Playboy magazine, also in 1953 (159, 169, 188, 190, 191). Interestingly, there appears to be a similarly gender-determined choice behind the language used to describe excrement: in Juliette, a "turd" is a "turd" as long as it is not produced by a woman--when it is, it remains the more opaque "etron" (Beauvoir 172,190; Sade, (Euvres 3: 347). Further, whereas mentions of incest, sodomy, necrophilia, lesbianism, prostitution, flagellation, and bestiality pass in English, more detailed descriptions of these acts appear in French. In La Pbilosophie dans le boudoir, for example, a passage where Mme de SaintAnge is speaking about the joys of incest is in English, while a more graphic evocation is kept in French: "So let us double and triple these delightful incests and fear nothing [...]. Un de mes amis vit habituellement avec la filie qu'il a eue de sa propre mere; il n'y a pas buit jours qu'il depucela un garcon de treize ans, fruit de son commerce avec cette file; dans quelques annees ce meme jeune homme epousera sa mere" (163). Consciously or unconsciously, Rosset and Dinnage seem to have been playing games with "le plaisir du texte" by giving knowledgeable readers thrills and creating in others the desire for elucidation that would be borne out in future editions. This tendency is particularly evident in cases where there is a shift in language midsentence after a piquant topic has been announced, leaving the non-French reader hanging: from La Philosophic dans le boudoir: "My husband's preference consiste a se faire sucer, et void le tres singulier episode qu'il y joint [...]" (160); or similarly, from Juliette: "I am forty-five, my lecherous talents are such queje ne me couche jamais sans avoir decharge dix fois [...]" (185).
Not surprisingly, this practice did not go unnoticed: a reader wrote to Rosset to express frustration about the incomplete translations, stating: "The unlimited amount of French passages was a breach between the translator and the reader. [...] If the translator thought the matter too fornicatory I advise him to see his confessor or to give the reader a valid picture of the subject presented." (11) In his response, Rosset indicates that the press's lawyer had told him to put objectionable passages back into French: "[The translator] obligingly put everything into English and I, unwillingly but necessarily, had to put some sentences back into the original language. It seems that we live in an era tinged with censorship, and my lawyer, although a great fighter for freedom of the press, thought that in this instance it was better to keep his publisher client out of jail than to press the point too far." (12) A letter to Rosset from Charles G. Bolte of the American Book Publishers Council confirms that this decision was wise, stating: "I trust that the lapses into the original tongue at critical moments will save you from any undue censorious attention." (13) Despite the potentially profitable desire this may have created in some readers, one can imagine that Rosset was not altogether satisfied with the result, as it compromised his vision of free and democratic access to Sade's writings. A review of the book in Psychiatric Quarterly suggests that such a practice limited the full comprehension of his texts to the (medical) elite: "Since the book seems to be intended for general reading, some of these (including the points of many) are left in the original French [...]. The psychopathologist who reads French will find some of this material enlightening." (14) In spite of, or perhaps because of, this aspect (which brings to mind Michel Foucault's power/knowledge dyad), overall the work was well received, thus bolstering Rosset s conviction that it was advantageous to pursue publishing complete, unexpurgated translations of Sade's works.
In the early 1960s Rosset prepared the terrain a second time with the publication of Alec Brown's translation of Gilbert Lely's The Marquis de Sade: A Definitive Biography (1962), based on the two-volume La Vie du marquis de Sade that appeared with Gallimard in 1952 and 1957. One of the authors criticized by Wilson in his New Yorker piece as "carrying on the torch" of the hagiographic tradition of Sade criticism, Lely--working from Maurice Heine's unfinished drafts--adopts an apologetic tone throughout the book when recounting events in Sade's life and enthusiastically praises the author's literary genius (Wilson 163). Rosset seems to have looked to Lely's work not only because it was part of the recent critical reappraisal of Sade in France but also because it allowed the press to paint Sade the man in a sympathetic light. Unlike the Beauvoir/Dinnage volume, which presented the texts without prefatory material, the Grove Press edition of Lely's biography actively seeks to shape readers' attitudes about Sade. The inner flap of the dust jacket portrays the author as a misunderstood, liberating force of humanity: "His outpouring of novels, essays, and other writings, saved only in part and known to the world only in smaller part, have been hailed as a great liberating force in a world of cant"; "Here at last is a full and scholarly biography [...] which does much to dispel the mists of legend and re-create one of the most remarkable men of recorded history." Details of Sade's life were exaggerated or falsified for emotional effect. Also from the dust jacket: Sade was imprisoned for twenty-eight years in all, during which he did most of his writing, "some of it on rolls of toilet paper" (ostensibly a reference to the rolled manuscript of Les 120 Journees de Sodome)', Sade's wife "supported him through all the years of his disgrace, separating from him only after he was let out of prison [...]. Meanwhile her mother did everything in her power to have her troublesome son-in-law kept in prison." The press release similarly played up aspects of Sade's "tumultuous life," presenting the book as a "detective's dossier" and "a dramatic documentary" that "brings to life many celebrated episodes--including the Arcueil affair, involving the flagellation of Rose Keller, and the Marseilles affair, in which five prostitutes and Sade's valet took part," "leaving no aspect of these episodes to conjecture." Along with Lely's biography, these paratexts, designed to pique the reader's curiosity and (prurient) interest, helped lay the final groundwork for the publication of the translations of Sade's most graphic and disturbing works.
The Seaver and Wainhouse Translations
Richard Seaver and Austryn Wainhouse met in Paris in the early 1950s, where Seaver was writing for the English-language literary magazine Merlin and Wainhouse was living as an expatriate novelist and translator. At the time of their meeting, Wainhouse had been working on translations of Sade's novels, although he was hesitant to publish them because the author's works were still banned in France (Seaver Tender 60-61; Wainhouse 53-54). Both Seaver and Wainhouse came to work as translators for Maurice Girodias, founder of the Paris-based Olympia Press, which published risque works written in English as well as English translations of "dirty books"--a venture that would land Girodias in serious legal trouble. Wainhouse's translations of Sade's Justine (1953; revised edition, 1963), Philosophy in the Bedroom (1957), and Juliette (1958-61) appeared with Olympia Press's Traveller's Companion series under the pseudonym Pieralessandro Cassavini. These translations became the basis for the Grove Press editions that Wainhouse produced in part with Seaver, who had been hired by Rosset as a managing editor in 1959. (15) Wainhouse "tightened and improved" his earlier translations such that they could be advertised as "new." (16) The men settled on a division of labor that had Seaver composing the introductory materials and taking on the translations of some of the additional texts. (17)
Between 1965 and 1968 Seaver and Wainhouse together produced two volumes of translations of Sade's writings: The Complete Justine, Philosophy in the Bedroom, and Other Writings (1965) and The 120 Days of Sodom and Other Writings (1966). Juliette, published in 1968, appeared under Wainhouse's name alone. Clearly the project was not without difficulties. Tensions between Seaver and Wainhouse ultimately broke up their partnership. (18) Further, their previous relationship with Girodias came back to haunt them: the Parisian publisher insisted that he held rights to Grove's 1965 and 1966 translations and demanded royalties. (19) Girodias also threatened to reissue (although he ultimately did not) Wainhouse's translation of Juliette in the United States in 1968--a scheme that Wainhouse tried to foil by delaying negotiations and holding on to the Traveller's Companion series galleys so that the Grove translation would appear first. (20) In addition, Rosset, Seaver, and Wainhouse had to worry about the threat of seizures and obscenity charges, as well as the race to publish their translations before rival publishers in the United States and Britain. There was also the problem of pirated editions: according to correspondence in the Grove Press records, Lancer Books pirated Wainhouse's translation of Juliette for Olympia Press, and Greenleaf Press printed pirated editions of Olympia's Justine, The Bedroom Philosophers, and Juliette. (21)
These various tensions and skirmishes are indicative of the personal, ideological, and financial stakes involved in translating Sade as well as the extent of the strategizing that took place behind the scenes. All this maneuvering paid off: although Rosset, Seaver, and Wainhouse anticipated legal repercussions, no serious threats to the publication and circulation of the Sade volumes emerged. Seaver had thought that the first volume--containing Justine, Philosophy in the Bedroom, and other writings--would provoke scandal, remarking in a letter to Susan Sontag, "I hope [...] that this will go (another) long way toward ending this whole foolish business of censorship once and for all." (22) Moves to ban the book seem to have arisen only when the paperback edition appeared--a cheap edition (costing only $1.75, versus $15) lacking the notice that appeared on the back cover of the hardback edition stating that "The Sale of This Book is Limited to Adults." (23) (A notice that prompted one Gene Tuck to write to the press on September 10, 1965: "I wonder what the Marquis would have thought of raising children in a greenhouse.) As Hunt and Kendrick have remarked, pornography first emerged as a regulatory category in the early nineteenth century in response to fears about the democratization of access, particularly among women and the lower classes (Kendrick 26-31, 48-50, 57-58; Hunt 12-13, 36, 44-15). One hundred and fifty years later, it would seem that the same concerns were the driving force behind censorship.
To head off potential legal troubles and boost sales, Grove Press systematically shaped the presentation and the reception of all three Sade volumes. In the June 1965 issue of the press s literary journal, The Evergreen Review, Seaver published a preparatory article, "An Anniversary Unnoticed," to which he appended an excerpt from the forthcoming Justine--which, he insisted, was not to be confused with Lancer Book's "hack-written rehash" (56). In his essay, Seaver remarks on the "scandalous" silence surrounding the 150th anniversary of Sade's death in 1964--also the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth, to whom he compares Sade--and provocatively challenges readers to read Sade's works: "We boast that we have shrugged off the coils of Victorianism, that the last bastions of censorship are besieged and on the verge of falling, and yet Sade remains condemned to clandestinity. Are we then still too timid, or too afraid, to confront him squarely?"; "We are not ready for them, say the Keepers of the Keys, we are too sensitive or squeamish, too cloddish, too undiscerning" (54, 56). Seaver's piece was followed by the publication of Wainhouse's essay "On Translating Sade," in the August 1966 Evergreen Review, where Wainhouse engagingly recounts the story of how he came to translate and publish Sade for Girodias. To help secure further a reading public, the press sent out a letter to booksellers on May 14, 1965, advertising the "first complete English translation of representative works by the Marquis de Sade[....] (not to be confused with existing bowdlerized paperbacks)" and exhorting them to order copies "from the limited first printing." It also sent a letter to potential readers enticing them to buy: "Because of the nature of the work, which differs markedly from the bowdlerized or abridged paperback editions you may find on the racks of your corner drug store, you will understand why we must ask you to sign the appended declaration of your age when ordering this book."-4 The press entered into relationships with various book clubs, including the Hudson Book Club and the Mid-Century Book Society, as well as making the book a selection in its own Evergreen Book Club, to extend its reach.
In addition, Grove carefully composed the dust jacket and prefatory texts and sought out well-positioned and sympathetic reviews to feature in promotional materials. The dust jacket of the Justine volume sets the stage with dramatic and anticipatory prose:
That the marquis de Sade was one of the most amazing writers who has ever lived seems more and more to be agreed, whatever 24 one's views may be concerning his work and philosophy. That he is one of the most talked-about but least read writers of all time also seems beyond dispute. And yet, although he was immured during his lifetime and his works often banned or destroyed after his death, he has steadfastly refused to die. Today, the legend is larger than before [...]. Now, more than 150 years after the death of the marquis de Sade, it is time that the mature reader be allowed to judge for himself the works of a man who, not unfairly, has been described as the most absolute writer the world has ever known.
The translators foreword and the publisher's preface continue in the same vein. (25) Cognizant of the standards of legal obscenity established by the Supreme Court, the men repeatedly assert Sade's "social value" at that particular cultural moment. (26) Seaver and Wainhouse write: "If books are to be burned, Sade's certainly must be burned along with the rest. But if, ultimately, freedom has any meaning, any meaning profounder than the facile utterances that fill our speeches and litter the columns of our periodicals, then, we submit, they should not" (xii-xiii). After praising the dedication and courage of predecessors such as Heine, Lely, and Pauvert, Rosset states: "To ignore Sade is to choose not to know part of ourselves, that inviolable part which lurks within each of us and which, eluding the light of reason, can, we have learned in this century, establish absolute evil as a rule of conduct and threaten to destroy the world" (xxii). He goes on to offer a detailed justification for publishing Sade that captures the spirit of the moralistic eighteenth-century prefaces the author parodied in his works:
Now, twenty years after the end of the world's worst holocaust, after the burial of that master of applied evil, Adolph Hitler, we believe there is added reason to disinter Sade. For though his works speak for themselves and need no apology, they will also serve to remind 25 26 us, in an age which legislates billions to construct bigger and better doomsday machines, bombs that can wipe out entire populations and missiles to deliver them with incredible swiftness and unerring aim, of the absolute evil of which man is capable. (xxii) (27)
These proclamations are carried throughout the volume in the shorter texts that introduce individual works, which sometimes betray a fear that Sade's writings will not live up to their reputation--an appearance of being "tame" or "less audacious" that is dispelled by an explanation of the author's uncompromising nature or black and grotesque humor (164, 181). Such moments point to the tensions inherent in Grove's (re)packaging of Sade, which involved the careful negotiation of revolutionary rhetoric--both Sade's and that of his proponents--along with the undeniable horrors depicted in his texts.
Part 1 of the Justine volume, titled "Critical and Biographical," has an extensive apparatus aimed at humanizing the author, including a chronology, photographs of the remains of Sade's chateau in La Coste, letters written by Sade and his wife, and copies of his certificate of baptism, his last will and testament, and other documents. One of these documents, an order from the minister of the interior dated October 18, 1810, forbids Sade's access to "tout usage de crayons, d'encre, de plumes et de papier"; seemingly in a gesture of solidarity, Sade's script is reproduced on the inside cover pages of the three hardbound Grove volumes. (28) Part 1 also features two excerpts of previously published works that serve as introductions: "The Marquis de Sade and His Accomplice," by Jean Paulhan, and Maurice Blanchot's "Sade." Paulhan, pointedly described as being "of l'Academie Francaise," stops just short of comparing Sade's "Gospels of Evil" to the New Testament while probing his texts' quasi-divine riddles, secrets, and mysteries (3). Blanchot's text extends this justificatory prose in focusing on Sade's thoughts pertaining to power, nature, God, and evil and in underlining his "important and original contributions" to philosophy and psychoanalysis (70). Composed by two well-known French authors and scholars, the inclusion of these texts adds critical gravitas to the project; Grove would similarly include excerpts from Beauvoir's essay on Sade and Pierre Klossowski's "Nature as Destructive Principle" as critical introductions to the second volume containing The 120 Days. Significantly, when the paperback edition of the Justine volume was published in 1966, the back cover quotes from French authors and critics such as Charles Baudelaire, Guillaume Apollinaire, Klossowski, and Beauvoir were replaced by statements from contemporary scholars and critics in America--Henri Peyre of Yale University, Robert Lowry of the Chicago Sun-Times, and Harry T. Moore of Southern Illinois University. As Loren Glass notes, the shift is an important one, designating "a migration from European to American protocols and centers of consecration": "Grove's Sade, in other words, is the inevitable culmination of the canonization of European modernism in the American academy" (135-36). It was an influential moment in the process of Sade's canonization on the other side of the Atlantic as well, setting in motion a new round of analyses produced by English-speaking critics that further legitimized the author's study in France.
The editions of The 120 Days and Juliette are at once more bold and less verbose in their positionings. They have shorter and more factual forewords from the translator(s), and no preface from the publisher; further, no additional critical texts accompany Juliette. If, following the success of the first volume, Sade now needed less justification to publish, this was counterbalanced by a desire on the part of the translators to memorialize the importance of their work. The front matter of The 120 Days creates a filiation between Sade's French and American "liberators" with the following dedication: "To the memory of Maurice Heine, who freed Sade from the prison wherein he was held captive for over a century after his death, and to Gilbert Lely, who has unselfishly devoted himself to this same task of liberation and restitution." Wainhouse's preface to Juliette--marked as the "first complete American edition" to distinguish it from the anticipated competing Olympia Press translation--emphasizes the salience of Sade's thought by aligning his philosophies with those of 1960s counterculture: "He wanted then what today revolution no longer holds 'impossible' but holds to be a starting point as well as a final end: to change man. To change him through and through, cost what it may, be it at the price of his 'human nature,' and even at the price of his sexual nature" (x). Wainhouse also asserts Sade's feminism with a quote from Apollinaire, taken from a prefatory note in Pauvert's 1949 edition:
The marquis de Sade, that freest of spirits to have lived so far, had ideas of his own on the subject of woman: he wanted her to be as free as man [...]. Justine is woman as she has been hitherto, enslaved, miserable and less than human; her opposite, Juliette represents the woman whose advent he anticipated, a figure of whom minds have as yet no conception, who is arising out of mankind, who shall have wings, and who shall renew the world. (ix)
Most notably, Wainhouse emphasizes the triumph the volume represents for the freedom of the press: "Ten years ago, the publishing of Sade in the United States seemed impracticable, seemed practically unthinkable; it was a project to wait and think about" (ix). Referring to his earlier translation for Olympia Press, he states that "altered circumstances have appeared to authorize the abandoning of a pseudonym," thus underlining the cultural shift the previous Grove volumes had helped effectuate (x). The publication of Juliette, however, was not without problems: Wainhouse chose to keep a poem in the original French and was accused of having censored the work. (29) Overall, the press reviews of all three volumes were positive--Justine was lauded as a "best book" of the year--although some reviewers expressed moral indignation or resorted to the well-worn dismissal of pornographic works as "boring." (30) Judging from the size of the Grove Press files containing review clippings, interest in the volumes had waned by the time Juliette appeared. (31)
For Rosset, the success of the Sade volumes confirmed that "sex sells." Grove soon moved on to purveying a less literary brand of erotica, illustrated by the Victorian Library series, the inclusion of nude photo spreads in the Evergreen Review, and ventures in pornographic him (Glass 188-91; Gontarski xxxiii). Seaver and Wainhouse had plans to publish a fourth volume with Grove in 1969, containing Sade's Letters from the Bastille and Vincennes, but these plans did not come to fruition ostensibly because of the changed direction in Grove's publication focus; Seaver would leave Grove for Viking Press in 1971 (Seaver, Tender 439). (32) Eventually, in 1999, Sade's Letters from Prison appeared with Arcade Publishing, with Seaver named as sole translator; Seaver and his wife, Jeannette, purchased Arcade in 1993 after founding it as a division of Little, Brown and Company (Tender 439-40). Documents from the Grove Press records and the Austryn Wainhouse papers indicate that Wainhouse completed half of the translation of the Letters for Grove in 1968, which he revised and resubmitted to Arcade in September 1997; however, in the hnal Arcade edition, he is credited only (along with Seaver) for the translation of five letters "revised" from the 1965 Grove edition of Justine, (33) The two men would not work together again. Seaver published Sade's The Mystified Magistrate and Other Tales with Arcade in 2000. Wainhouse moved on to translate works by other French writers and critics, winning the National Book Award for his translation of Nobel prize-winner Jacques Monod's Chance and Necessity (1971). For its part, Grove Press continued to publish other works related to Sade: a translation, by Donald Keene, of Yukio Mishima's Madame de Sade: A Play (1967); Sixty Erotic Engravings from Juliette (1969), prefaced by Seaver; and Guido Crepax's graphic novel The Illustrated Justine, Based on the Novel by the Marquis de Sade (1981), which was originally published in Italy in 1979. By the 1970s profits from Grove Press's editions were down--this, combined with a move among the editorial staff to unionize and feminist protests, led to the sale of the press in 1986 and to Rosset's firing (Glass 193-215; Gontarski xxv-xxxii; McCord xii-xiii).
The Sade translation project represents both the pinnacle and the downfall of Grove's revolution in print. The story of the publication and reception of Grove's editions of Sade's works confirms critical assessments of pornography as a "battlefield" whose legal and cultural parameters are perpetually in contest (Kendrick 31). In continually pushing the limits of censorship, Rosset and Grove made their products less sensational and ultimately less lucrative: the trajectory from Dinnage's 1953 volume, with its taboo words and passages, to the straightforwardly presented 1968 Juliette provides tangible proof of how notions of obscenity evolved, and the market along with them. Further, despite the assertions of Sade's feminism, the author's works were seen as embodying the feminist complaints against the publisher, which in April 1970, protesters claimed, "'earned millions off the basic theme of humiliating, degrading, and dehumanizing women through sado-masochistic literature, pornographic films, and oppressive and exploitative practices against its own female employees'" (Gontarski xxvi). (34) The 1968 paperback edition of Juliette reflects these shifting perceptions of Sade. A review from Playboy magazine cited on the back cover appears, in hindsight, to be the project's epitaph: "It is not necessary to take the Marquis seriously as a philosopher of total freedom, as some do, in order to relish the imagination and talent that went into gilding the nuggets of naughtiness here contained." In the end, in transforming Sade from moral philosopher to pop-culture pornographer--the stuff of comic books and girlie magazines--Rosset and Grove's "liberation" of Sade backfired by highlighting the least revolutionary and most undemocratic aspects of his works.
Austryn Wainhouse papers. Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Library.
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Catullus, Gaius Valerius. The Poems of Catullus. Trans. Peter Whigham. New York: Penguin, 1966.
Darnton, Robert. The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Pre-Revolutionary France. New York: Norton, 1995.
--, and Daniel Roche. Revolution in Print: The Press in France, 1775 1800. Berkeley: U of California P, 1989.
Delon, Michel. Introduction. CEuvres. By Donatien Alphonse Francois, marquis de Sade. Vol. 1. Paris: Gallimard, 1990. ix-lviii.
Dieckmann, Herbert. Inventaire du fonds Vandeul et inEdits de Diderot. Geneva: Droz, 1951.
Genet, Jean. Our Lady of the Flowers. Trans. Bernard Frechtman. New York: Grove, 1963.
--. The Thief's Journal. Trans. Bernard Frechtman. New York: Grove, 1964.
Glass, Loren. Counterculture Colophon: Grove Press, the Evergreen Review, and the Incorporation of the Avant-Garde. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2013.
Gontarski, S. E. "Introduction: The Life and Times of Grove Press." The Grove Press Reader, 1951-2001. Ed. S. E. Gontarski. New York: Grove, 2001.
Grove Press records. Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Library.
Hunt, Lynn. "Introduction: Obscenity and the Origins of Modernity, 15001800." The Invention of Pornography: Obscenity and the Origins of Modernity, 1500-1800. Ed. Hunt. New York: Zone Books, 1993. 9--45.
Kendrick, Walter. The Secret Museum: Pornography in Modern Culture. New York: Viking, 1987.
Ladenson, Elisabeth. Dirt for Art's Sake: Books on Trial from Madame Bovary to Lolita. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2007.
Lely, Gilbert. The Marquis de Sade: A Definitive Biography. Trans. Alec Brown. New York: Grove, 1962.
Martial. Epigrams. Trans. Walter C. A. Ker. 2 vols. New York: Putnam's, 1930.
Marty, Eric. Pourquoi le XXe siecle a-t-il pris Sade au serieux? Paris: Seuil, 2011.
McCord, Brian James. "An American Avant-Garde: Grove Press, 1951-1986." Diss. Syracuse U, 2002. Syracuse University Surface. Web. 29 April 2014.
Monod, Jacques. Chance and Necessity: An Essay on the Natural Philosophy of Modern Biology. Trans. Austryn Wainhouse. New York: Knopf, 1971.
Pauvert, Jean-Jacques. L'Affaire Sade. Paris: Pauvert, 1957.
Reage, Pauline [Anne DEselos], The Story of O. Trans. Sabine d'Estree [Richard Seaver]. New York: Grove, 1966.
Rembar, Charles. The End of Obscenity: The Trials of Lady Chatterley, Tropic of Cancer, and Fanny Hill. New York: Random House, 1968.
Sade, Donatien Alphonse Francois, marquis de. The Bedroom Philosophers. Trans. Pieralessandro Cassavini. San Diego: Greenleaf Classics, 1965.
--. The Complete Justine, Philosophy in the Bedroom, and Other Writings. Trans. Richard Seaver and Austryn Wainhouse. New York: Grove, 1965.
--. The Complete Justine, Philosophy in the Bedroom, and Other Writings. Trans. Richard Seaver and Austryn Wainhouse. New York: Grove/Evergreen Black Cat, 1966.
--. Juliette. Trans. Austryn Wainhouse. New York: Grove, 1968.
--. Juliette. Trans. Austryn Wainhouse. New York: Grove/Evergreen Black Cat, 1968.
--. Justine. New York: Lancer, 1964.
--. Letters from Prison. Trans. Richard Seaver. New York: Arcade, 1999.
--. Lettres Ecrites de Vincennes et de la Bastille. 2 vols. Paris: J. J. Pauvert, 1966. Vols. 29 and 30 of Oeuvres completes. 35 vols. 1953-1970.
--. The Mystified Magistrate and Other Tales. Trans. Richard Seaver. New York: Arcade, 2000.
--. (Euvres. Ed. Michel Delon. 3 vols. Paris: Gallimard, 1990-98.
--. The 120 Days of Sodom and Other Writings. Trans. Richard Seaver and Austryn Wainhouse. New York: Grove, 1966.
Seaver, Richard. "An Anniversary EInnoticed." Evergreen Review 9 (June 1965): 53-56.
--. The Tender Hour of Twilight. Paris in the '50s, New York in the '60s: A Memoir of Publishing's Golden Age. Ed. Jeannette Seaver. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012.
Shattuck, Roger. Forbidden Knowledge: From Prometheus to Pornography. New York: St. Martin's, 1996.
Steintrager, James A. "Liberating Sade." Yale Journal of Criticism 18 (Fall 2005): 351-79.
Wainhouse, Austryn. "On Translating Sade." Evergreen Review 10 (August 1966): 50-56, 87.
Wilson, Edmund. "The Vogue of the Marquis de Sade." New Yorker 18 Oct. 1952:163-76.
(1.) The Roth opinions involved two separate cases brought before the Supreme Court concerning the bookseller Samuel Roth and the mail-order businessman David Alberts: Roth had been convicted of mailing obscene circulars and an obscene book; Alberts had been convicted of selling obscene books and publishing obscene advertising for his products. See Glass 101-17; and Kendrick 209-11; see also Rembar 45-58, 453-68.
(2.) Although Pauvert was initially convicted in 1957 of crimes against morality for the publication of La Philosophie dans le boudoir, La Nouvelle Justine, L'Histoire de Juliette, and Les 120 Journees de Sodome, in 1958 his sentence was annulled and his conviction partially overturned. See Bridge 16-28; Ladenson 229-31; and Shattuck 245. See also Pauvert.
(3.) See, for example, the letter from Richard Seaver to Austryn Wainhouse, 2 July 1965: "It would be convenient, I agree, for there to be a little scandal, that is a little censorship." See also the letter from Seaver to Wainhouse, 20 August 1965: "I am as astonished as you at the silence of the censors to date. You are probably right: part of the reason is the fact that the sale of the book has been somewhat disappointing" (Grove Press records, Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Library). Rembar asserts that the lack of government interference in the Grove Press Sade translations stemmed from the 1966 Supreme Court reversal of a Massachusetts court decision suppressing John Cleland's Fanny Hill, another case he defended (488).
(4.) I refer here to the various methods (false publication dates and addresses on books; payment of censors; smuggling and clandestine sales) employed in an attempt to evade the censorship and seizure of objectionable literature in eighteenth-century France. For a discussion of these methods, see Darnton; and Darnton and Roche.
(5.) While a handful of scholars have published partial studies of the Grove Press Sade translations, to date no one has completed a detailed analysis. See, for example, Glass 132-38; Shattuck 245, 290-93; and Steintrager 354-61. My focus here is an analysis less of the translations themselves than of their publication histories.
(6.) For discussions of Sade's critical rehabilitation, see Bridge, esp. 172-253; Delon xliii-1; Marty; and Shattuck 236-56.
(7.) Letter from Rosset to Professor Robert E. Taylor, 27 May 1952; letter from Rosset to Professor Herbert Dieckmann, 30 April 1952; letter from Rosset to Taylor, 3 September 1952 (Grove Press records). Rosset was apparently aware of Dieckmann's 1951 inventory of the Vandeul archive, which contained manuscripts and unpublished texts by Diderot; it is not clear from the early project files, however, why Grove did not pursue translating Diderot's works. Rosset went on to publish translations of the works of many avant-garde and contemporary French writers such as Samuel Beckett, Marguerite Duras, and Eugene Ionesco; he became knowledgeable about the French literary scene through his relationship with Richard Seaver (who held a doctorate from the Sorbonne) and his dealings with the Paris-based publisher Maurice Girodias See Glass 16-22.
(8.) Undated notecard (c. 1952) (Grove Press records).
(9.) Although Wilson stated that he was not interested in writing a preface, Rosset secured his approval to use quotes from his article. Postcard from Wilson to Rosset, 27 October 1952 (Grove Press records).
(10.) See, for example, the Loeb edition of Martial (1930), which translates racy passages into Italian (1: 263), and the Penguin edition of Catullus (1966), which keeps obscene parts in Latin (70).
(11.) Letter from Jerome Emel to Rosset, 13 February 1955 (Grove Press records).
(12.) Letter from Rosset to Emel, 16 February 1955 (Grove Press records).
(13.) Letter from Rosset to Charles G. Bolte, 22 April 1953 (Grove Press records). Although it was not banned in the United States, the book was classified as prohibited goods and banned entry into Canada in April 1955, prompting Rosset to write Mr. Raymond LaBarge at the Canadian Department of National Revenue on 19 April 1955: Heretofore we had always looked upon Canada as a country of free speech and free cultural inquiry, but it would now seem that we should revise our thoughts somewhat" (Grove Press records).
(14.) Review in Psychiatric Quarterly, April 1957 (Grove Press records).
(15.) Wainhouse based his translations on Pauvert's French editions. See, for example, his 28 October 1967 letter to Richard Seaver and Marilynn Meeker and his 11 April 1968 letter to Marilynn Meeker (Grove Press records).
(16.) Letter from Wainhouse to Seaver, 23 October 1963; letter from Seaver to Wainhouse, 28 October 1963 (Grove Press records). Wainhouse was linked to Grove not only through his association with Seaver but also through his 1953 review of the Beauvoir/Dinnage volume for The Western Review: A Literary Quarterly Published by the State University of Iowa, where Wainhouse had been a graduate student (Grove Press records).
(17.) Letter from Wainhouse to Seaver, 23 October 1963; letter from Seaver to Wainhouse, 28 October 1963; letter from Seaver to Wainhouse, 15 January 1964; letter from Wainhouse to Seaver, 6 February 1964; letter from Wainhouse to Seaver' 20 February 1964; letter from Seaver to Wainhouse, 2 November 1964; letter from Wainhouse to Seaver, 5 November 1964; letter from Seaver to Wainhouse, 1 December 1964 (Grove Press records).
(18.) Tensions are evident from the start of work on volume 1, with Wainhouse writing in a 23 October 1963 letter to Seaver: "And precisely: how had you visualized sharing the job? La Philosophie and Justine, I've translated them already; Blanchot's essay, I've translated that also." Seaver responded in a letter of 28 October 1963: "Perhaps I am wrong, but I seem to detect a note of irritation in your letter 'And precisely how do you visualize sharing the job' etc.) (sic), the implication seeming to be Now, old man, I've done all the translating, where (precisely) do you fit into the picture? Perhaps I am wrong; I hope so. This is an editorial idea I have had for some time [...]. Anyway, my own feeling is that, however the work be distributed, and I recognize that you, by your existing translations have already contributed a goodly share of your share, we should divide this 50-50. I would feel better if that were the set up." Contracts indicate that the men shared equally in the profits of the first two volumes (Grove Press records).
(19.) Letter from Wainhouse to Seaver, 5 March 1966; letter from Seaver to Girodias, 16 September 1966 (Grove Press records).
(20.) At the time Girodias was involved in a lawsuit he initiated with Lancer Books over Lancer's pirated edition of Olympia's translation of Juliette; Girodias claimed that he hired Wainhouse and provided him workspace for the duration of his work on his translations in an attempt to establish Olympia Press's ownership of copyright (claims that Wainhouse denied). The lawsuit was eventually decided in Girodias's favor. See letter from Girodias to Wainhouse, 5 February 1968; letter from Wainhouse to Seaver, 27 February 1968; letter from Wainhouse to Seaver, 12 April 1968; letter from Wainhouse to Seaver, 29 December 1968 (Grove Press records). See also letter from Wainhouse to Seaver, 9 April 1968 (Austryn Wainhouse papers, Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Library).
(21.) Letter from Wainhouse to Seaver, 19 January 1967; letter from Seaver to Wainhouse, 23 August 1965; letter from Girodias to Wainhouse, 18 March 1968 (Grove Press records). See also letter from Seaver to Wainhouse, 27 March 1968 (Austryn Wainhouse papers).
(22.) Letter from Seaver to Susan Sontag, 3 June 1965. In a 25 October 1965 letter to Sontag, Seaver wrote: "Although there has to date been no trouble on the Sade we hear rumors of litigation in the offing. No, alas, I do not believe the censorship issue, with books, is over" (Grove Press records).
(23.) In an article appearing in the June 21,1967, Springfield (MA) News and the June 25, 1967, Newark (NJ) Star-Ledger, Hoke Norris (Chicago) refers to a Cook County, Illinois, court case against three Chicago bookstores: "The unexpurgated collected works of De Sade were published on July 14, 1965, by Grove Press in a hardbook edition costing $15. This edition evidently did not interest the police authorities of city nor county. It's the paperback edition, published March 4,1966, that is the subject of the present litigation. It cost only $1.75. Such seems to be the usual practice--when a book is issued at the price the unaffluent can afford, then the police take alarmed notice of it." In April 1967 a similar case (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania vs. Milton Ruttenberg, David Katz, and L. Ruttenberg) was brought before the Court of Common Pleas in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, involving "the paperback edition of the 'Marquis de Sade. In his 11 September 1970 opinion, the judge upheld the Supreme Court standard for obscenity: "The Court has perused this publication and although it is in utter bad taste by all standards of decency in the Western world for the past three centuries and it does when taken as a whole appeal to the prurient interest in sex, it cannot be said that it is utterly without redeeming social value." The paperback edition of Juliette was also the subject of legal proceedings in Lafayette, Louisiana; a 22 June 1978 letter to the press from Public Defender Michael J. Barry states: "Please send a paperback version of De Sade s Juliette" to this office as soon as possible as we are defending an indigent charged with possession of obscene material concerning this book and need to have it evaluated by our experts--(as soon as possible)" (Grove Press records).
(24.) The press release echoed this in its "Note to Reviewers," stating that "the present volume should in no way be confused with any of the paperback editions purporting to be by Sade, which have recently been published. Without exception, they are digests, or watered-down, truncated versions which have little, if anything, to do with the original, authentic works by Sade, offered for the first time in this complete Grove Press edition." The release ostensibly refers to the Lancer Books edition of Justine (1964) and the Lancer Books and Greenleaf Classics editions of The Bedroom Philosophers (1965) (Grove Press records).
(25.) Other critics have noted the rhetorical richness of these texts. See, for example, Glass 136-37; Shattuck 290-93; and Steintrager 357-60.
(26.) The weight of the Supreme Court standard is evident in the press release as well. Consider, for example, the quote from Harry T. Moore of Southern Illinois University: "Because Sade is the ancestor of so much that occurs in modern literature, it is highly important that we have this authentic and definitive edition. Culturally, it is a blessing that we do have it." Or from Henri Peyre, chairman of the French department at Yale: All I can say is that no firm today matches Grove Press in acumen, courage and wisdom [...]. [The publication of this extraordinary volume on Sade] will be an event of importance in American publishing and in American intellectual life. The reading public is ready for it" (Grove Press records).
(27.) Both Rosset's preface and Seaver and Wainhouse's foreword to Justine play off of Wilson's text in their rhetoric and references, although they also borrow from the hagiographic tradition of Sade criticism that Wilson criticizes. Rosset in particular took inspiration from Wilson, who wrote: "In Europe, since the Second World War, the professional intellectual has found himself under a frightening pressure: he has had to try in some way to accommodate [...] to the world [...] the murderous devices for large-scale murder, for suffocating, burning, or blowing up one's enemies, that the professedly Christian countries have lately been going in for as heartily as the Odin-worshipping Nazis, the Emperor-worshipping Japanese, or the officially atheist Russians; and here is a writer, the Marquis de Sade, of whom one knows that he always insisted that such things were perfectly normal and who tried to reason about them" (173).
(28.) See also Glass 136-37.
(29.) In note 9 on page 690 of Juliette, Wainhouse explains: "Here we reproduce [Juliette's] version, which reveals much poetic skill, much verve. Even if these were not entirely lost in English translation, they would be less than sufficiently appreciated by the English reader whose susceptibilities they might offend." A review in the April 1969 issue of Choice states: "Readers with any left to offend by p. 690 must be remarkable for the callousness of their susceptibilities." Seaver defended Wainhouse in a December 12, 1968, letter to Mr. B. N. Thadani of Winnipeg, Canada: "[...] It is patently absurd to even suggest that Mr. Wainhouse has acted as a censor in translating Sade. [...] Mr. Wainhouse has certainly not taken it upon himself to spare the susceptibilities of American readers, as a look at almost any page will prove" (Grove Press records).
(30.) Grove's edition of Justine was selected as an "Outstanding Academic Book" in the May 1966 issue of Choice; an article in the December 15, 1965, issue of the Kansas City Star lists Justine as one of the "best books of the year." In the July 4, 1965, edition of the Detroit Free Press, William Hogan criticizes the volume, stating: "From what I have seen in my advance copy, this is appalling, sick material [...]. I add the opinion that it is depressing, morbidly prurient stuff and that all the presumed scholarship, chronology of Sade's life and critical pieces from the French that are part of this edition is pretentious packaging only." In his December 15,1966, column in the Roanoke (VA) World News, Robert Motley writes: "'The 120 Days of Sodom and Other Writings of De Sade' (Grove, $15) are crashing bores in their incessant once-to-the-left, once-to-the-right variations on a familiar theme." Richard Howard's review in Book Week, 5 September 1965, states: "As pornography they [the works] are mechanical and lack precisely the quality of suggestiveness that makes titivation possible." See also the September 20,1965, review from Cite AB: "We didn't think it possible! But translators and compilers (Richard Seaver and Austryn Wainhouse) have succeeded in making de Sade sound dull!" (Grove Press records).
(31.) In their correspondence, Seaver and Wainhouse lament the slowdown in sales. See, for example, the letter from Seaver to Wainhouse, 29 October 1968; letter from Wainhouse to Seaver, 4 November 1968 (Grove Press records).
(32.) See letter from Wainhouse to Seaver, 13 March 1980 (Austryn Wainhouse papers).
(33.) Wainhouse and Seaver agreed on a division of labor that had Wainhouse translating the first volume of Pauvert's 1966 edition of Sade's Lettres Ecrites de Vincennes et de la Bastille and Seaver translating the second volume. Letter from Wainhouse to Seaver, 5 October 1968; letter from Wainhouse to Seaver, 18 December 1968; letter from Madeline Belkin, secretary to Richard Seaver, to Wainhouse, 23 December 1968 (Grove Press records). See also letter from Wainhouse to Seaver, 17 December 1997 (Austryn Wainhouse papers). Although Seaver and Wainhouse had a falling out over details in the contract that resulted in Seaver's returning Wainhouse's manuscript to him in April 1998, a November 26, 1998, e-mail duplicating the Amazon.com preorder page indicates that Arcade planned to publish the book under both men's names prior to its projected release in January 1999. See letter from Seaver to Wainhouse, 17 April 1998; e-mail from Isaac Maxson to Judith Beatty, 26 November 1998 (Austryn Wainhouse papers).
(34.) Protesters were also referring to Grove's 1966 publication of The Story of O by Pauline Reage (pseudonym of Anne Deselos), an erotic tale of a woman's voluntary sexual slavery inspired by Sade's novels.
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|Author:||Wyngaard, Amy S.|
|Publication:||The Romanic Review|
|Date:||May 1, 2013|
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