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Memoirs of a Booklegger

Memoirs of a BookleggerJack Kahane's autobiography, Memoirs of a Booklegger, is now available for purchase in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. It is also available in France and in Germany through and

From the safety of Paris, Jack Kahane published books no-one else would touch. Having worked in turns as a textile merchant, army interpreter, and coal trader, Kahane started writing novels in the early 1920s. He enjoyed some success (due in part to the publicity he received when his first book was banned in Britain), but after a decade he "had grown tired of writing novels of negligible value for publishers with negligible assets". Kahane founded the Obelisk Press in 1931 and began to publish both his own books as well as other writers who would have been either censored or outlawed in English-speaking countries. The Obelisk list of authors included Richard Aldington, Cyril Connolly, Lawrence Durrell, James Joyce, Henry Miller, and Anaïs Nin. This autobiography tells of Kahane's youth in Manchester, his First World War experiences, life in Paris during the 1920s, and the struggle to establish the Obelisk Press. It is a fascinating glimpse inside the mind of a man who waged what Connolly described as "a lonely guerrilla war against prudery". The book was written during the summer of 1939. A few months later, Kahane was dead - possibly murdered because he was working as a spy for the British Foreign Office. This newly typeset edition will appeal to anyone with an interest in early 20th century literature.

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Five Days in Brussels with Charles Baudelaire

Five Days in Brussels with Charles Baudelaire is now available for purchase.

Five Days in Brussels with Charles BaudelaireIn the fall of 1864 Georges Barral's job brings him to Belgium, where he meets and befriends the author of Les Fleurs du mal. Over the next five days, Barral listens as Baudelaire expounds on a variety of subjects, including the merits of his pet bat, Burgundy wines, ginger bread, and the proper preparation of an omelette. The French poet also discusses his feelings for Victor Hugo, Napoléon, and the Académie Française.

During their time together, Baudelaire and Barral travel to see the battlefield at Waterloo, accompany Félix Nadar and Dumas fils on a visit to a brothel, and tour Brussels' lower town, where they stop to contemplate Manneken Pis. This account first appeared as a series of articles in Le Petit Bleu magazine.

When Barral died in Brussels in 1913, he left his notes to the Belgian poet and professor Maurice Kunel, who republished them in 1932 as Cinq journées avec Charles Baudelaire à Bruxelles.

This is the first time the memoir has been translated into English.

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More than 150 years have past since Les Fleurs du mal was published and Baudelaire's poetry is still being censored.

Last year, reported that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATF) had prevented Bordeaux wine merchant Guillaume de Tastes from exporting to the United States. He had included an excerpt from Baudelaire's poem L'Âme du vin (The Soul of Wine) on the label of his Château Haut Gay, and the American authorities banned the product on the grounds that the the text was "an incentive to debauchery".

The two offending verses, translated by William Aggeler:

One night, the soul of wine was singing in the flask:
O man, dear disinherited! to you I sing
This song full of light and of brotherhood
From my prison of glass with its scarlet wax seals

Vegetal ambrosia, precious grain scattered
By the eternal Sower, I shall descend in you
So that from our love there will be born poetry,
Which will spring up toward God like a rare flower!

In the soon-to-be released Obolus Press translation of Georges Barral's Five Days in Brussels with Charles Baudelaire, the poet doesn't drink any Bordeaux, but does enjoy several bottles of Pommard and Corton.

"Wine is like the sun!," says Baudelaire. "It is the father of all civilizations! It is what has made France!" He also recommends eating gingerbread alongside burgundy on the grounds that it brings out the wine's heady fragrance.