Welcome to this cyberplace, set up as a space for news and reviews of A Gentleman of Pleasure and occasional jottings about John Glassco. Five years have now passed since publication, and I've moved on to other projects, but I'm leaving this up with the thought that those drawn to Glassco's writing will find something of interest.

21 May 2011

Glassco sans permission

A passing comment concerning piracy made during my McGill lecture - available online - has brought a few queries.

John Glassco's problems with pirates began with the appearance of a cheap, two-volume edition of The English Governess, a product of Taiwanese scoundrels. When exactly this bastard book appeared is lost to history, but evidence indicates that it was very close in following the June 1960 Ophilia Press first edition. While it's likely Glassco never knew of this illegitimate publication, he was very much aware of the one pictured above. Published in 1967 by Collector's Publications of Covina, California, The Governess was a transparent attempt to cash in Grove's newly published Harriet Marwood, Governess, the original version of the romance. Glassco, who was greatly offended by the pirated edition, fought as best he could, but publisher Marvin Miller was an elusive figure, and was far beyond the grasping hands of a poet located in Foster, Quebec.

Not coincidentally, Collector's Publications pirated another Canadian-penned Olympia Press book: Bottoms Up by Jock Carroll. In this case, the claim, "FIRST AMERICAN PRINTING" is not at all true. As The Shy Photographer, the novel had already been published in hardcover by Stein & Day and as a mass market Bantam paperback.

Others have followed the late Mr Miller, the most notable being England's AKS Books, whose catalogue lists Glassco's erotic classic under the confusing catch-all title The English Governess: Harriet Marwood. The publisher also offers his long flagellantine poem Squire Hardman as part of an anthology titled Punitive Poetry.

With the advent of Print On Demand technology and ebooks, piracy has flourished. Kessinger Publishing offers Glassco's completion of Aubrey Beardsley's Under the Hill, but the most egregious firm has been olympiapress.com. An imprint of appropriately-named Disruptive Publishing, olympiabooks.com is not to be confused with Maurice Girodias' Olympia Press. That said, it does issue works that once found home with the legendary publisher. In Glassco's case, we find Under the Hill. The website misinforms:
Anyway, in '59, Glassco, author of The English Governess, joins Beardsley's illustrations with the deceased author's unfinished manuscripts of the story. Adding in his own bits here and there, voila [sic], we have "Under the Hill," a kind of fairy tale for adults, featuring Tannhauser [sic], a German hero of myth and the Venus, goddess of love, some wild parties, and sex without repercussion.
The most beautiful and elaborate Olympia Press book, olympiapress.com has reduced Under the Hill to this:

Also on offer is Glassco's pseudonymous The English Governess, which Girodias first published under his Ophelia imprint. It can be purchased as a "5 x 8 Perfect Bound" or as a download for your Sony Reader. Cost: US$8.96.

There's more: olympiapress.com lists pornographic works that Glassco published with other houses. Fetish Girl, which which appeared in 1972 as a Venus Library book under the pseudonym Sylvia Bayer, is worthy of note, but the most interesting to me is The Temple of Pederasty (North Hollywood, CA: Hanover House, 1970). In pitching the download (only), the olympiapress.com again misinforms:
Based on source tales from the same Saikaku material that Tuttle Publishing derived its "Comrade Loves of the Samurai" from. This peculiar edition supposedly derives more immediately from a hilariously bad, clandestine publication of a 1928 translation, largely of Saikaku's "Glorious Tales of Pederasty." However, in view of Glassco's unique talents, as poet and author of the Victorian-fake extraordinary The English Governess and Fetish Girl, it's quite likely the book emerged more from the pen of Glassco himself, than from anything Saikaku wrote. Owing to the extreme difficulty people have had in finding the title, the Olympia Press is proud to offer this work of gay erotica for all the scholars out there.
"Banned By Amazon", trumpets olympiapress.com, to which I add that in 1970 The Temple of Pederasty was also banned by Customs and Excise Canada in a decision that would most certainly stand if revisited.

As a completist, sadly, I help support these characters.

Update: A pirate responds!

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