[ModLib] A couple of questions about Mademoiselle de Maupin

Gordon Barrick Neavill neavill at wayne.edu
Sun Jul 22 23:08:31 EDT 2012

The ML used the anonymous translation published by Vizetelly in London in 1887. This translation omitted three paragraphs of chap. 16. The omission, indicated by three lines of asterisks, follows the sentence: "He took up the fair one in his arms and bore her to the couch” (p. 289). When a reader complained that the translation was not "complete and unabridged" as indicated on the jacket, Klopfer responded: 

"The passage omitted is one that no American publisher can print without running the risk of being sent to jail for publishing obscene literature. It is simply a paragraph or two giving in detail an amorous encounter, and its deletion affects in no way the continuity of the story. We printed all of this passage that we dared to. I know of no edition of the book in the English language that leaves out less of this particular episode."

Following the 1933 court decision that lifted the ban on Joyce’s Ulysses, Cerf and Klopfer commissioned a translation of the expurgated paragraphs of Mademoiselle de Maupin. The added text is included in printings from 1935 on, which also include "One of Cleopatra's Nights."

The newly translated text appears on pp. 289-90:

"In an instant he undressed and flung himself beside her.

The girl pressed herself against him and embraced him closely, for her two breasts were as cold and as white as snow. This purity of skin aroused D’Albert and excited him to the highest pitch. Soon she too became inflamed. He began to caress her most ardently and madly – chest, shoulders, neck, mouth, arms, legs. He longed to cover with a single kiss her entire beautiful body, which was melting into his, so close was their embrace. In this wealth of charming treasures, he did not know which to attain first.

All their kisses became one, and Rosalind’s perfumed lips were joined to D’Albert’s to make a single mouth. Their chests were expanded, their eyes half closed; their arms, exhausted by passion, no longer had the strength to press their bodies to each other. The divine moment approached. A supreme spasm convulsed the two lovers, and the curious Rosalind became as enlightened as possible on a matter which had so deeply perplexed her.

Still, one lesson, no matter how intelligent one may be, cannot suffice; D’Albert gave her a second, then a third. Out of consideration for the reader, whom we do not wish to humiliate and discourage, we shall not carry this description too far."

The unexpurgated text remained in print until 1957, when the ML edition of Mademoiselle de Maupin was discontinued.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Jerry Karp" <jerry at rocketwords.com>
To: modlib at thuban.owu.edu
Sent: Sunday, July 22, 2012 7:01:57 PM
Subject: [ModLib] A couple of questions about Mademoiselle de Maupin

Greetings all!

I own a used bookstore in Ukiah, Mendocino County, northern
California. At home I have a modest Modern Library collection but I
have not had the opportunity to become as knowledgeable about them as
so many folks on this listserve. At any rate, someone recently
presented me with a couple of large boxes of old books for my store
which to my delight included about two dozen old ML volumes (no dust
jackets, alas). These got diverted from the store to my private
collection. I've finally started to go through them a few at a time.
One of the nicest is a copy of Mademoiselle de Maupin in a Style 4
binding. While adding the book to my LibraryThing library, I became
curious about the translation. The modernlib.com website includes the
information that ML used "the 1887 Vizetelly translation." Looking up
Vizetelly to find out his first name, I found on Wikipedia that this
could possibly be the father, Henry Vizetelly, who was known (and
prosecuted!) for his translations of Zola, or his son, Ernest Alfred
Vizetelly, who retranslated some of his father's work. The 1887 date
makes either plausible.

On the one hand, Wikipedia says the son "reworked some of his father's
Zola translations and published these bowdlerized versions in the
1890s," and the early ML versions of MdM are indeed bowdlerized.

On the other hand, "the 1890s" are, obviously, later than 1887.

Anybody know which it is?

Also, am I correct in assuming that it's impossible to nail down the
exact edition of this book, since I have no dust jacket and this
edition has no titles list at the end?

Many thanks!

Jerry Karp,
Village Books
344 North State Street
Ukiah, CA 95482
(707) 468-5355
jerry at rocketwords.com
Facebook: Village Books - Ukiah
ModLib mailing list
ModLib at thuban.owu.edu

Gordon B. Neavill
Associate Professor
School of Library and Information Science
Wayne State University
106 Kresge Library
Detroit, MI 48202
313-577-0507; 313-577-7563 (fax)

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