As it is often the case with the subjects treated in underground discussions for a long time and now in the net where people tends to copy and paste information, Story of O has gathered around itself a cloud of myths that won't dissipate but is only thickening. I summerize here as a form of FAQ a few basic points on the story of Story of O for those who are interested in seeing things with precision rather than with mystification.
Who is the author? (Who is Pauline Réage?)
Dominique Aury (See her biography in this site) .
The question had intrigued people for more than 50 years since the publication of Story of O in 1954. Dominique Aury was mentioned as a possible author from the start and in 1990s her authorship was merely an open secret in the French literary circle or to well-informed readers. The confirmation was definitely given by Dominique Aury herself in 1994.
Is Dominique Aury really the author?
Yes. The evidences are all reliable and there's very little room to believe the contrary.
In spite of clear evidences there are people who won't accept this fact. John de St. Jorre's book The Good Ship Venus (see below) mentions those opinions. Two motifs seem underlie this refutation. The first one is a desire to believe in a real underground society as described in the story. The second is reluctance to admit that a woman is the author of a story like this. It's in fact another form to say "It's impossible that such a history is written by a woman". For the role of Jean Paulhan see a discussion below.
What are the reliable sources on the story of Story of O?
First hand information comes from three people directly concerned: Dominique Aury (author), Jean Paulhan (author of the preface) and Jean-Jacques Pauvert (publisher). Aury gave several interviews both as Pauline Réage and as Dominique Aury on Story of O. The most reliable and detailed reportage ever written on this subject is John de St. Jorre's The Good Ship Venus : the Erotic Voyage of the Olympia Press (1994). (See further discussion ) in this site.
Many of the net-readable articles suffer from more or less errors or misinterpretations. For those who want to grasp the story in two minutes however, I gave links to several texts that appear to me the best ones.
When was Story of O written?
There are enough evidences to believe that it was written in 1951 (at least for the most part). First of all Jean Paulhan wrote to Gaston Gallimard (publisher with whom Paulhan worked for long years) that he had received the manuscipt of what would become Story of O and was ready to show it. Jean-Jacques Pauvert says that he heard of this manuscript from Paulhan since 1952.
What is the exact date of the death of Dominique Aury ?
It's 26th or 27th April 1998. There are some confusions about the date of her death. When you search for the information in the internet or in the press, you have different dates such as 26th, 27th, 30th April, 2nd May or 3rd May (even some date in June!). Which is the exact then? What is sure is that she died at a ceratin moment in the night of 26th to 27th April 1998. Reliable French journals like Le Monde are unequivocal about that. For convenience you can choose 26th or 27th as a commemorative day. Where do these all the other dates come from then? Apparently some newspapers and magazines who published her obituary are responsible for this confusion. Ceratin foreign journalists took the date where the news arrived via news agencies for the date of her death. Even The Times dates her death at 30 April (for The Times obituary see www.storyofo.co.uk (scanned) or arlindo-correia.com (typed-out)). Other journalists and readers took in turn the date where the obituary was published for the date of the death. In this way people have postdated the fact more and more in their magazines or websites.
FAQ items in preparation
Was Story of O banned ?
Why is this novel called "a love letter"?
What is the role of Jean Paulhan?
Where does the name of Pauline Réage come from?
Why Roissy was chosen for the location of the chateau?
Where does the name "O" come from?
Is Story of O based on the reality?
Is Retour à Roissy (Return to the chateau) is written by the same author?
Did Pauline Réage (=Dominique Aury) preface L'image of Jean de Berg ?
© Autel & R***