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The Ginger Man (1955) - J.P. Donleavy

Related: American literature - Olympia Press - literature - 1955

The Ginger Man first edition

The Ginger Man (1955) - J.P. Donleavy

The Olympia Press
The Travellerís Companion Series was an imprint of the Olympia Press, a publishing company founded by Maurice Girodias in Paris in the early 1950ís. Continuing his fatherís legacy as a fearless, avant-garde publisher (his father, Jack Kahane, had published works by James Joyce, AnaÔs Nin and Henry Miller), Girodias was the first to publish The Ginger Man, The Naked Lunch, andómost famouslyóLolita.

From the pornographic to the experimental, from historical landmarks to modern classics, Girodias published a bizarre mix of the good, the bad, and the obscene, and although he published a number of important books under a variety of imprints (such as Watt, by Samuel Beckett, under Olympia Press/Collection Merlin), The Travellerís Companion Series was clearly the flagship line of his publishing enterprise.

Many of the books in the series played pivotal roles in overturning censorship laws in the U.S.A. and the U.K., and have become icons of twentieth-century literature.

Ironically, Girodias was, to some degree, a victim of his own success: once censorship laws in the U.S. and U.K. were repealed, the market for Ďdirty booksí was never the same. Girodias moved to New York in the late 1960ís to capitalize on new publishing freedoms in the U.S., but the company went bankrupt in the early 1970s. He published his last book in 1974.

Maurice Girodias died in Paris in 1990 at the age of seventy-one. --http://www.thetravellerscompanionseries.com/olympia.cfm [Aug 2005]

Travellerís Companion Series
In the first six months of 1955, Girodias published the first fifteen titles in a new imprint, "The Travellerís Companion Series." Most were clearly Ďdirty books,í with titles like The Enormous Bed and School for Sin. Number seven, however, was a bit different - The Ginger Man by J.P. Donleavy.

Now considered to be one of the great books of the last one hundred years (The Modern Library ranked it 99th on their list of the Top 100 books of the Century, The Ginger Man made its debut between number six, Tender Was My Flesh, and number eight, An Adultís Story. Donleavy was not amused.

To make matters worse, Girodias claimed to own the worldwide rights to the English edition-a claim Donleavy disputed-and thus began a long and bitter feud.

Donleavy, however, had the last word. When the Paris Olympia Press was forced into bankruptcy in 1968, it was auctioned off in a French court. Donleavy outbid Girodias, sending his young wife to act for him incognito, finally triumphing over his old adversary in one of the strangest annals of publishing history.

First Thus
Following are the first printings of each title in the series, along with the authorís true name (where known), and the year of publication. More specific bibliographic data is being compiled and will appear here in the future. --http://www.thetravellerscompanionseries.com/travcomp.cfm [Aug 2005]

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