Kahane, a novelist, began the Obelisk Press after his publisher, Grant Richards, went bankrupt. Going into partnership with a printer, Kahane published his next novel Daffodil under his own imprint, and under one of several pseudonyms he used, Cecil Barr. A publisher of 'db's ("dirty books"), Kahane mixed serious work with smut in his list; he was able to take advantage of a legal loop-hole whereby books published in France in English were not subject to the censorship otherwise practised at the time, but were still subject to confiscation when importation wa attempted.
Henry Miller's 1934 novel, Tropic of Cancer, had explicit sexual passages and could not be published in the United States; an edition was printed by the Obelisk Press in Paris. Obelisk also published Richard Aldington, Anaïs Nin, Cyril Connolly, James Joyce's Haveth Childers Everywhere and Pomes Penyeach, Frank Harris's My Life and Loves and Lawrence Durrell's The Black Book, and also less-known authors as Nadjeda de Braganza. Kahane's wife Marcelle and their son Maurice (later known as Maurice Girodias) worked as unpaid cover illustrators for the imprint.
Kahane died within days of the outbreak of World War Two, having just finished his final book, on 3rd September 1939. This book, Memoirs of a Booklegger, marked the end of Obelisk for several years, until his son (Girodias took his mother's birth name during the war to evade detection as a Jew) briefly revived it in the years following the war.
Selling in large quantities to the American G.I.s passing through Paris on their return home, Miller's best-known works were republished alongside other English language books such as Memoirs of Fanny Hill; and, Nikos Kazantzakis's Alexis Zorba. Girodias also published works in French including George Bataille's literary review Critique. Girodias largely abandoned The Obelisk Press name when he discovered that new titles under the name would not sell.
A very British pornographer ; Actor Neil Pearson has just written a scholarly book about a risque publisher and his extraordinary output. But, he explains, he's not giving up the day job
Oct 10, 2007; So it is refreshing to report that at least one of us, the actor Neil Pearson, is reassuringly sane. Neither can he remotely be...