Published in Paris in 1954, The Story of O was an immediate bestseller and literary scandal: an elegantly written S&M fantasy that had all the hallmarks of being an autobiographical account...
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Published in Paris in 1954, The Story of O was an immediate bestseller and literary scandal: an elegantly written S&M fantasy that had all the hallmarks of being an autobiographical account by the pseudonymous Pauline Réage. In 1994 Dominique Aury, a mild-mannered, dowdy editor for France's prestigious Gallimard press, revealed her authorship. Pola Rapaport explores Aury's inspiration, recreating the world of '50s literary Paris and setting it against dramatic sequences that bring the infamous book to life. The author and various French intellectuals expound on the thorny relationship between sexuality and power, submission and freedom, liberation and non-being. Even today, The Story of O mystifies in its power and confounds in its contradictions. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Her real name was Anne Desclos, even though she used yet another pseudonym for this documentary as well as another when she revealed that she was the author of The Story of O, after all those important in her life had died. Even her name - like her fascinating book - was a puzzle, wrapped inside a riddle wrapped inside an enigma.
This documentary is a unique and freeing study of an average-looking woman blessed with great intellect and good humor who tells yet another story - the true story of her real love life where, as a younger woman, feeling the fading rays of love in her lover's eyes, creates one of the greatest, widely-read, shocking treatments of auto-eroticism and sadomasochism written within the past century.
She adores a brilliant, dashing critic and "literateur" Jean Paulhan only as a woman of her time adores - utterly, completely and ultimately desperately as he is married to a chronically ill woman whom he would never leave. He was a man who thrilled in exercising his wondering eye. Like Anne Desclos' father, Paulhan was a connoisseur of pornography.
Being a bibliophile, sometime during her early years she surreptitiously found her father's store of erotic novels, read them, and in time fell in love with the topic in general and one of his books in particular.
Some years later, fearing the loss of her lover and following his dictum that women were incapable of writing auto erotic and sadomasochistic novels she writes The Story of O, anonymously, and asked him to publish it for her. Although the world may see it otherwise, the documentary made it clear to me that the book was merely incidental to her great and unending love of him. She said she never loved before him nor after him - and while it may seem obvious, she never married.
That was back in 1954 and that book has not been out of print since. Very few books can boast a record of that sort. I haven't read it in some years yet I find it again to be a thrilling ride - and have started to read it again after viewing this wonderful documentary.
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