A major find for my collection, a very nice copy of the 58 Ginger Man with the original dust jacket flaps. As always the bibliographical description is courtesy of Patrick Kearney, The Paris Olympia Press, The Liverpool University Press 2007. The index number corresponds to the actual location of the description in the bibliography.
5.7.2 THE GINGER MAN J. P. Donleavy, 1958
[Within a green border of type ornament: ] J. P. DONLEAVY | THE | GINGER | MAN | (Paris edition) | THE TRAVELLERřS COMPANION | SERIES | published by | THE OLYMPIA PRESS | [breaking the border: ] 7, rue Saint-Séverin, Paris 5
Collation: 384 pp. No signatures. 17.0 x 10.5 cm., all edges trimmed. Printed on white wove paper.
Contents: pp. [i,ii] blank. p.  THE | GINGER | MAN. p.  blank p.  title, as above. p.  PRINTED IN FRANCE | [rule] | All rights reserved by The Olympia Press, Paris | COPYRIGHT 1958. pp. 5-, text with, at the foot of p.  [rule] | Printed January 1958 by S.I.P., Montreuil, France| Dépôt légal : 1er trimestre 1958.
Binding: Bound in green cloth boards, with red endpapers and with black paper labels on spine and front cover, printed in gold and white. Label on front cover measures 5.2 x 8.2 cm. and has a gold border decorated in black with the same type ornament used on the titlepage: [in gold: ] J. P. DONLEAVY | [in white: ] THE | GINGER MAN | [in gold: ] THE OLYMPIA PRESS, PARIS.
Label on spine measures 5.0 x 2.4 cm. and is similarly decorated, but at top and bottom only: [in gold: ] DONLEAVY | [in white: ] THE | GINGER | MAN | [in gold: ] OLYMPIA. Upside-down on the front paste-down is an oblong paper label measuring 6 x 1.5 centimetres on which is printed, within a single-line frame, NOT TO BE SOLD IN | THE U.K. OR U.S.A.. Centred to the right beside this, in larger type and still within the frame, is: FRS. 1.200. Two copies of this first issue have been noted, both having this label upside-down.
Issued in glossy white dustwrappers streaked in yellow and with coloured blot designs in dark blue, red and gray running into each other. Front of dustwrapper: [in white, each letter contained within an individual dark blue blot: ] THE | [in black upper-case script, each letter contained within an individual red blot: ] GINGER | [in black lower-case script, each letter contained within an individual gray blot: ] man [in black lettering: ] BY J . P. DONLEAVY – THE OLYMPIA PRESS, PARIS. Spine of dustwrapper has a similar coloured blot design, but with one blot per colour: [In white, within a dark blue blot: ] THE | [in black upper-case script, contained within an indidividual red blot: ] GINGER | [in black lower-case script, contained within an individual gray blot:] man [in black lettering: ] BY J. P. DONLEAVY.
On the front inside flap of the dustwrapper, and within a red border of type ornament, begins THE STORY OF THE GINGER MAN, an extended account of the how the novel came to be published in the first place and the litigation that was then in progress. This account is carried over to and concluded on the back inside flap. At the conclusion of the text is a red rule, followed by: [left justified:] NOW AVAILABLE IN ENGLAND: | [centered:] Samuel Beckett | [in red:] Molloy | [in black on the next line and to the right:] 13/6 | [in red and centred:] WATT | [in black on the next line and to the right:] 15/- | [in black and centered:] Paul Ableman | [in red and centred:] I HEAR VOICES | [in black on the next line and to the right:] 15/-.
Notes: Maurice Girodias believed that he owned the English language rights to The Ginger Man, including those governing contracts for English editions outside France. Donleavyřs view of the situation was quite different, and thus was born one of the longest and most bitterly fought feuds in the history of publishing. This present edition of The Ginger Man was printed specifically by the Olympia Press to be imported into England to undermine the edition published there by Neville Spearman who had entered into a separate contract with Donleavy. Fearing possible legal action in England, Spearman, presumably with Donleavy’s agreement and co-operation, expurgated their edition of the book. For similar reasons, Girodias pruned his edition as well, but to a lesser degree. Unfortunately, he neglected to take into consideration the reputation his imprint had with the British Customs and Excise authorities.
Referring to an omission in the 1975 edition of this bibliography of the Olympia Press, a letter from Donleavyřs then secretary, Mrs. P. V. Epps, to the present author dated January 3rd 1977 stated: There is one edition of Mr. Donleavy’s book The Ginger Man which is absent from your handlist. However, this is understandable due to the fact that it was published in a limited hard cover 500 copy edition in 1956 [sic], and Mr. Girodias claimed that much of this edition was destroyed by the English Customs. It happens, however, to be a volume which Mr. Donleavy does not presently have, and he is attempting to obtain a copy.
By 1982, Donleavy had evidently located a copy, for on the 7th of May in that year his new secretary, Teresa Miln, wrote to Bernard Stone, a London bookseller: Mr. Donleavy did in the same post as your letter get such a copy, however he is still looking for the same cloth edition 1958 but with the dust jacket containing reference to litigation then being carried on. You will note the dust jacket you presently have has been cut on the fold over containing the legend on the inside cover, and the legend concerning The Ginger Man pasted onto the cover. This [is] because the previous legend might have been in contempt of court concerning the matter sub judice. There may only be a handful of such copies containing this wrapper, but Mr. Donleavy would much appreciate your keeping an eye out for it, and of course any other editions coming into your hands.
It is clear from these letters that when the Olympia Press first published this edition of The Ginger Man, the inner flaps of the dustwrapper contained some account of the ongoing court case between Girodias and Donleavy. Fearing, perhaps on legal advice, that publication of this information might be construed as contempt of court and/or hamper his case, Girodias had the flaps removed and substituted with others carrying less sensitive letterpress. These new flaps are on different paper to the dustwrapper, having a sort of rough, matt finish. Why a whole new batch of wrappers weren’t printed instead it is hard to say, but it may have been because of the expense of additional colour printing.
In December 1997, a copy of the first issue of this edition, with the original flaps, was offered for sale by Quill & Brush Books (P.O. Box 5365, Rockville, MD 20848). A copy of the litigious text was, with great generosity, supplied to the compiler by Quill & Brush Books, and is here reproduced:
THE STORY OF THE GINGER MAN
The story of this remarkable and now famous book is an unusually complicated one. J. P. Donleavy submitted his manuscript to us four years ago, after it had been rejected by several British and American publishers because of its rather raw unconventionality, and because Donleavy definitely refused to leave out any of the rawness and unconventionality. We agreed to publish it provided that some amendments should be brought to the form and style of this novel ,an exuberant first book. This was done, and The Ginger Man appeared in Paris in 1955.
In December 1956, another edition of the book was published in London, unauthorized by us, and rather badly expurgated by the second publisher, as a protection against the implacable vigilance of British censorship. However, the job was so barbarously done that it resulted in the destruction of many of the genuine qualities of the book.
Litigation was initiated by us, and the London publisher adopted the following line of defence: a British Court could not admit the validity of the Donleavy- Olympia Press contract because its object was of an illegal nature, i.e. an obscene book; therefore, their own contract with the author, the second contract, was to be considered the only valid one, its object being a book (the same) dutifully maimed, shorn, and disencumbered from all Rabelaisian appendages.
The laws of Great Britain being what they are, our solicitors warned us in alarm that the line of defence adopted by our adversaries was far from futile; the grave accusation of obscenity, even unsupported, was to raise such echoes in a British Court that we were in danger of losing our case, however unjust such an outcome, however devious the methods of the Defendants.
Our first reaction was unmitigated fury; then we remembered that we had acquired a rather dark fame in England in the past few years as Continental publishers of the outlaw works of Jean Genet, of Henry Miller, of Samuel Beckett, of de Sade, and that we were known as the discoverers and champions of this magnificent masterpiece, Vladimir Nabokovřs Lolita. We reluctantly understood that our solicitors were right.
We were then struck by this major, illuminating discovery: why shouldn’t we withdraw the ladder from under the agile feet of our adversaries? The means were simple, and the prospect healthy: we would ourselves publish an edition of The Ginger Man for sale in England, under our contract also expurgated, but within the limits of reason, and with all due concern for the literary merit of the book.
And this volume is the result. If the London edition is free from the accusation of obscenity, then this edition also is; only we have kept in many sections and passages necessary for the balance, meaning and colour of the book, which the London publisher had suppressed for no discernible reason. And whatever expurgations we have been compelled to perform, we have tried to perform intelligently; we therefore presume that this edition of The Ginger Man deserves even more fully than the London one these comments of the British Press:
A triumph. Manchester Guardian. Sheer excess of horseplay, violence and vitamins. Observer. Has fire enough for a dozen books. Sunday Times. Remarkably authentic and Joycean. New Statesman. Comic dirty and delightful. The Listener, etc., etc.
Whether the British Customs did seize the shipment, as Donleavy states that Girodias claims, is problematical. Certainly, before about 1980 this edition of the novel was all but unknown, but about that year a considerable number of copies emerged almost simultaneously at London book fairs and similar functions. It is possible that the Customs sat on them until the dust settled, and then sold them secretly to a wholesaler who in turn filtered them out into the London book trade, but this seems unlikely. Nevertheless, somebody kept them under wraps for more than twenty years.
The second state dustjacket is identical to the first except the inside flaps are cancels. The front inside flap carries, within a double-line frame, the outer line being heavier than the inner, a short unsigned note concerning The Ginger Man, and refers to the many cuts made in the Neville Spearman edition of the novel published in London. The present edition is admitted to having been cut as well, but much less so, and has therefore gained considerably in vigour and quality, and fully deserves the universal acclaim of the British Press. Brief plaudits are then quoted from reviews in The Manchester Guardian, The Observer, The Sunday Times, &c. The back inside flap carries, within an identical border, advertisements for three other Olympia Press novels, Samuel Beckett’s Molloy and Watt, and Paul Ableman’s I Hear Voices, the first of which is priced at 13/6 and the other two at 15/- respectively, which are said to be DISTRBUTED IN THE UNITED KINGDOM BY A. ZWEMMER LTD., |72 Charing Cross Road, | London WC2.
With the exception of the cancel flaps and the NOT TO BE SOLD… sticker, copies with the second state dustjacket are identical to copies with the first state dustjacket.