Despite its past, somewhat uneasy relationship with The Story of O, the French government has announced that the sadomasochistic novel will “be included on a list of national triumphs to be celebrated in 2004.”
For the Observer, Geraldine Bedell recalls the author, whose identity remained cloaked behind a pen name until four years before her death, at 86, in 1998. She came forward then to admit she’d written the book as a love letter to restore the flagging devotion of her lover, Jean Paulhan:
Literature was a shared passion. Dominique Aury once boasted that she had read all of Proust every year for five consecutive years. Novelist and cultural critic Regine Desforges, who became Aury’s friend (and who interviewed ‘Pauline Reage’ in 1976, publishing the conversation as ‘O m’a Dit, Confessions of O’) remembers: ‘Dominique Aury was fascinated by intelligence. The intelligence of Paulhan was obvious. And for her it became a kind of obsession.’ Theirs was a relationship of minds as well as bodies, so it was fitting that, when she started to worry about losing him, she should try to win him back with sex in the head.