Aury, Dominique (1907–1998)

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Aury, Dominique (1907–1998)

French editor and writer. Name variations: (pseudonym) Pauline Réage or Reage. Born at Rochefort-sur-Mer, France, in 1907; died on April 26, 1998, in France.

French editor Dominique Aury was not publicly unveiled as author of The Story of O, the sadomasochistic "classy porn classic," until 1994, when she was 86, even though the book was awarded the Deux-Magots, one of France's premiere literary awards in 1955. In one of the best-kept secrets in postwar publishing history, the pseudonym of this underground bestseller went unclaimed for 40 years, until Aury was pinpointed in an article in The New Yorker by British journalist John De St. Jorre; he also discusses authorship in his book The Good Ship Venus, which deals with novels published by Paris' Olympia Press.

Aury admitted to St. Jorre that she had written O as a love letter to Jean Paulhan, a prominent French critic, when he intimated that she was incapable of writing an erotic book. St. Jorre identified O's English translator, known as Sabine d'Estree, as Dick Seaver, a former copublisher of Grove Press, who brought out the book in the United States in 1965. "The French, they are a funny race," wrote Herb Lottman in Publishers Weekly. "Everybody has always 'known' that Aury wrote O. Even I knew it, for years. I'm sure that I even saw references to it in print, but never in an authorized form." A well-known translator, Dominique Aury worked for Gallimard in Paris, starting in 1950, and continued to do so well into her 80s.


O'Brien, Maureen. Publishers Weekly. August 1, 1994, p. 13.

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