The heyday of Parisian erotica

Maurice Girodias was the most daring avant-garde publisher in English of the post-war era. His Paris-based Olympia Press took on Samuel Beckett at a time when no British publisher wanted him, Vladimir Nabokov when Lolita was considered unprintable, William Burroughs when The Naked Lunch was regarded as obscenely incomprehensible, The Ginger Man by J.P. Donleavy, as well as translations of risqué works by Jean Cocteau and other French authors. After a police raid, Terry Southern’s banned book Candy simply reappeared as Lollipop Olympia flourished for a dozen or more years from 1951. Its best known list, the Traveller’s Companion Series, specialised in supplying titles such as The Wisdom of the

Were the Sixties really so liberated?

Lolita, the Lady Chatterley trial, the pill, Christine Keeler, ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’, love-ins, Oh! Calcutta!, the Oz trial — sex, even more than usual, was on people’s minds in the 1960s, that semi-mythical decade which, to stretch a point, lasted from the late 1950s to the early 1970s. That, anyway, is the plausible contention of Peter Doggett, whose Growing Up is a refreshingly undogmatic, well-researched and highly readable survey of some of the emblematic episodes and controversies surrounding the subject during these years. More detailed sociology would have been helpful — how, if at all, did everyday/everynight sexual practices and attitudes change in Barnsley, in Dunfermline, in Ashby-de-la-Zouch?