Against the grain

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The Fortune Press first edition of this anonymous translation of A rebours was produced from the leftover sheets of a limited edition (number unstated) printed and published in France by Groves & Michaux in 1926. According to Peter Mendes, in Clandestine Erotic Fiction in English 1800-1930 (Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1993), Jean Michaux decided that he wanted to legally dissolve his business partnership with Frank Groves in 1930, and as a result a stocklist was prepared for potential buyers. (So little is known of Jean Michaux that some people, including the author of one reference book, have mistakenly assumed that Michaux was actually Henri Michaux, though it is impossible for this to be the case.) R. A. Caton, who most probably knew of the firm’s activities beforehand — it is known that the Fortune Press printed some of their editions in France, either to save money or to avoid prosecution for obscenity in England — capitalised on the imminent break-up of Groves & Michaux to acquire some new stock. According to D’Arch Smith a list of Groves & Michaux’s stock was prepared for Caton in December 1930, and in March of the following year he bought shares in, and became a director of, the publishing-house-come-bookshop that specialised in selling under-the-counter literary erotica. However, as there don’t seem to be any Groves & Michaux titles published after 1930, it seems that the firm was effectively dissolved as a publishing entity and Caton simply republished the titles he wanted under the Fortune Press imprint.

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Groves & Michaux

1926, hardcover, 300pp, keurig exemplaar, 20.5×13.5cm