Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Who Wrote the Story of O?

Writer James Salter offers a paean to the late Richard Seaver, founder of Arcade Publishing, who died this past January 5. Salter recalls his first meeting with Seaver in Paris in 1961, writing that Seaver looked "like a naval officer, that is to say capable and tough." He goes on to recall the role Seaver played in publishing seminal European writers in the United States.

"Seaver's writers were distinguished and significant, often foreign and sometimes lessor known. though they included Harold Pinter, Octavio Paz, and John Berger," writes Salter. "There were possible Nobel laureates but modest sales." 

Salter too mentions his suspicion that Seaver had more to do with the book than merely serving as translator. 

"I have a kind of Scrabble hand, the letters A A E E E I U and G L N P R," writes Salter.  "They are the letters of the name Pauline Reage, listed author of L'Histoire d'O and pseudonym of the books' actual writer, Dominique Aury...The trouble is that Seaver, who translated the book into English, on sever occasions told me that Dominique Aury was not the real author despite all that has been written saying so. Pauline Reage was anagram for the name of the genuine author, a name I would recognize and know, he said.

"I'm waiting for his yet-to-be-published memoir to reveal the answer."  

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