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"Histoire d'O" (English title: "Story of O") is a sadomasochistic novel by French author Pauline Reage, revealed a few years before her death as being the pen name of Anne Desclos (1907-1998), who also wrote under the name of Dominique Aury in her career as a translator.
It is a fantasy of female submission about a
Parisian fashion photographer who is blindfolded, chained, whipped,
branded, made to wear a mask, and taught to be "constantly available"
for oral, vaginal, or anal intercourse.
It was published in 1954 in French by Jean-Jacques Pauvert, and in February 1955, it won the French literature prize Prix des Deux Magots, although this did not prevent the French authorities bringing obscenity charges against the publisher. The proceedings were eventually halted by the Minister of Justice, but a publicity ban was imposed for a number of years.
A very poor English translation by Baird Bryant appeared in France simultaneously with the first French edition, published by Maurice Girodias' Olympia Press in Paris. A second English translation was prepared by Austryn Wainhouse and published again by Olympia in 1957, as "The Wisdom of the Lash". The first American edition was published in 1965, in a new translation by "Sabine d'Estrée", now known to be a pseudonym of the literary translator Richard Seaver.
A sequel, "Retour a Roissy" ("Return to Roissy", but often translated as "Return to the Chateau"), was published in 1967.
A film, "The Story of O", was made in 1975 by director Just Jaeckin, starring Corinne Clery. The film met with far less acclaim than the book. It was banned in the United Kingdom by the British Board of Film Censors until February 2000.
A graphic novel version, illustrated by Guido Crepax, was published in 1975.
A Brazilian miniseries in ten episodes with Claudia Cepeda was made in
1992 by director Eric Rochat, who was the producer of the original 1975
Elements of the story
One view of the novel is that it is about the ultimate objectification of a woman. The heroine of the novel has the shortest possible name, consisting solely of the letter O. Although this is in fact a shortening of the name Odile, it could also stand for "object" or "orifice", an O being a symbolic representation of any "hole".
O is required to wear an iron signet ring to identify her as part of the society of Roissy:
When you leave here, you will be wearing on your third finger an iron
ring, which will identify you. Bu then you will have learned to obey
those who wear the same insignia, and when they see it they will know
that beneath your skirt you are constantly naked, however comely or
commonplace your clothes may be, and that this nakedness is for them.
Should anyone find you in the least intractable, he will return you here.|
Then he asked her to choose, from among the exactly identical rings which he showed to her in a small wooden box, the one which fit her left ring finger. They were strange iron rings, banded with gold inside, and the signet was wide and as massive as that of an actual signet ring, but it was convex, and for design bore a three-spoked wheel inlaid in gold, with each spoke spiraling back upon itself like the solar wheel of the Celts.
This use of a secret symbol to identity others is a form of flagging, and was the original inspiration for Quagmyr's triskelion design for a BDSM emblem.
(This article incorporates text from the Story of O article in Wikipedia.)
This article is published under the terms of the GFDL. The contributors to this article were: AnonMoos, Tanos
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