Wednesday, June 30, 2010

L'Actrice Degeneree

While looking around the DailyMotion website, I came across another short French film which is a kind of homage to Louise Brooks. It's called L'Actrice Dégénérée, and it's by Laure Springer. It is a recent work, though I am not sure from when exactly.

Its story focuses on Samuel and Julian, two journalists. Samuel is attempting to write an article on Louise Brooks, but Julien is unable to understand his fascination with the actress.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Article about Loving Louise Brooks

I posted an article about the new short film, Loving Louise Brooks, over at examiner.com It’s a very true film well worth watching. Loving Louise Brooks is an 11 minute work which speaks not only to the vagaries of young love, but also to cinematic obsession – and the times when those forces collide. Check out my article at http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-48577-Louise-Brooks-Examiner~y2010m6d29-New-short-film-homage-to-Louise-Brooks
 

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Loving Louise Brooks

I just came across this short film on Daily Motion. It's called Loving Louise Brooks. It is a wordless sound film, in effect a silent film. It is really good. I believe it was made in France. Check it out.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Remembering Daisy D'Ora

Daisy D'Ora was what one would call a personality. She was a free spirit. I wrote an article about her which I posted to my Louise Brooks column on examiner.com. Please check it out.

D’Ora was discovered at the age of 15 by director G.W. Pabst, who noticed her in a cosmetics advertisement. In the ad, according to one article, she was dressed in her confirmation dress (a la Thymain in Diary of a Lost Girl). 

Pabst cast her in a small role in Pandora's Box, her first film. She was only 16 years old when it debuted in Berlin in February, 1929. After that, she appeared in only a few more films in 1929 and 1930.

In 1931, she was selected "Miss Germany," and was a contestant in that's year's international beauty pageant in Galveston, Texas. She placed fourth. She was not, as far I can tell, ever named "Miss Europe" (a la Prix de Beaute), as is claimed on some web pages. (There was such a contest in Europe in the 1930's.)

[This German newspaper obituary has a remarkable photo of D'Ora standing next to a painting of herself as a young woman.]

Friday, June 25, 2010

Daisy D'Ora (1913-2010)

Daisy D'Ora, a German actress whose brief career included a role as Charlotte Marie Adelaide in the 1929 Louise Brooks' film Pandora's Box, has died. D'Ora was one of the last surviving German actresses of the silent era. D'Ora, born February 2, 1913, died on June 19, 2010.

Daisy D'Ora was a baroness named Daisy, Baroness von Freyberg. Because it was thought improper in her circle in those days to work in show business, she acquired a stage name. At the end of the 20's, she had appeared in a few silent movies.

The famous writer Erich Maria Remarque persuaded her to take part in a beauty contest in Germany. She won and as a result she was sent to Miami for the Miss Universe contest. The famous vocal group, Comedian Harmonists, sang of her beauty in later years.

Here she is, as depicted in Pandora's Box. She played Dr. Schon's fiance, and it is her and Schon's son (played by Francis Lederer) who discover Brooks and Dr. Schon (played by Fritz Kortner) in an compromising position backstage. The hands that hold the picture are those of Lousie Brooks.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Six reasons to attend the SF Silent Film Festival

If you’re a fan of Louise Brooks and have been thinking about attending the upcoming San Francisco Silent Film Festival, and need a few reasons to encourage you to purchase a ticket – then here are six. Each, on its own, is reason enough IMHO.

1) The Festival, which is putting on its 15th annual event this July, will screen one of Louise Brooks’ best films, Diary of a Lost Girl. As the "Founder’s Pick" film, this 1929 German movie has been designated the centerpiece work at this year’s event. It will be shown with live musical accompaniment provided by the outstanding Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.

According to the world renowned British film historian Kevin Brownlow, the collaboration between director G.W. Pabst and actress Louise Brooks helped establish Brooks as an “actress of brilliance, a luminescent personality and a beauty unparalleled in screen history.” I think we would all agree.

2) Kevin Brownlow will be in attendance. If you know Brooks’ life story (or you’ve read Barry Paris’ outstanding biography), then you’re aware of the importance of this film historian in the revival of interest in the actress.

Let's put it this way: there is no more important film historian in the history of silent film. And, there is no more important book than Brownlow’s classic 1969 study, The Parade’s Gone By (University of California press). Interestingly, Brownlow's book carries this acknowledgment, “I owe an especial debt to Louise Brooks for acting as a prime mover in this book’s publication.”

This film historian lives in England, and doesn’t make all that many appearances in the United States. Brownlow will be signing books twice over the course of the Festival, as well as introducing a couple of films. Bring your copy of The Parade’s Gone By and get is signed. Or buy a copy at the Festival and get it signed. (Brownlow's book and the other books mentioned in this post will all be on sale at the Festival.) And don’t miss this opportunity to meet the man.

3) Another author who knew the actress will also be in attendance. Ira Resnick, a longtime collector and the founder of the Motion Picture Arts Gallery in New York City (the first gallery devoted exclusively to the art of the movies) will be signing copies of his superb new book, Starstruck: Vintage Movie Posters from Classic Hollywood (Abbeville).

This book features posters and lobby cards of many silent films including a handful of Brooks’ films, and notably a one-of-a-kind poster for Diary of a Lost Girl (pictured left) for which the author once paid the near record setting sum of $60,000. Another illustration in the book is inscribed to Resnick from Brooks.

Resnick will  be signing books following the July 17th screening of Diary of a Lost Girl.

4) Also signing books following Diary of a Lost Girl will be Hollywood screenwriter Samuel Bernstein, whose Lulu: A Novel, has recently been published by Walford Press. The subject of this “non-fiction” novel is Louise Brooks and the period in her life when she went to work with Pabst in Germany. It’s an enjoyable read, and the latest in a shelf worth of worthwhile works of fiction which have taken the silent film star as its muse.

Bernstein, who lives in Los Angeles, will be signing books following the July 17th screening of Diary of a Lost Girl.

5) The San Francisco Silent Film Festival takes place at the historic Castro Theater. Built in 1922, this grand theater is one of the last standing movie palaces in the San Francisco Bay Area. And what’s more, no theater in San Francisco can claim to have shown more Brooks films.

As a neighborhood movie theater in the 1920’s and 1930’s, the Castro screened just about every Brooks’ film back then. And beginning with the late 1970’s revival of interest in Brooks, the Castro has regularly shown the actress’ surviving works. The two Pabst films, along with A Girl in Every Port (1928), Beggars of Life (1928), Prix de Beaute (1930) and the remaining fragments of The American Venus (1926) and Just Another Blonde (1926) have all been shown at the Castro in recent decades. The July 17th screening of Diary of a Lost Girl is the latest in a long history of Castro love for Lulu.

6) I will be there. Recently, as I am always going on about, I edited and wrote the introduction to a new “Louise Brooks edition” of Margarete Böhme’s 1905 book, The Diary of a Lost Girl (PandorasBox Press). Böhme’s book was the basis for the 1929 film of the same name. This just published illustrated edition includes the original English-language translation of this once controversial and bestselling work, which has been out of print in the United States for a century. My edition of The Diary of a Lost Girl is making its debut at the Festival. And what's more, I'll be giving away a mini-Thymain or mini-Louise Brooks button to those who line up to get a book.

Along with Resnick and Bernstein, I will also be meeting the public and signing books following the July 17th screening of Diary of a Lost Girl. That's a trio.

Hopefully, one of these six reasons should provide the tipping point in deciding to attend the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Please note, however, that when the Festival screened Pandora’s Box in 2006, it became the only film in the Festival’s now 15 year history to sell out in advance. The Castro Theater holds 1,400 people! That's a lot of Louise Brooks' fans.
 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

How many silent films were made based on Diary of a Lost Girl

How many silent films were made based on Margarete Böhme's 1905 book, Tagebuch einer Verlorenen, or The Diary of a Lost Girl. There were at least two, and possibly three.

The first was directed by Richard Oswald and was based on his adaption of Böhme’s book. This 1918 film starred Erna Morena as Thymian, with Reinhold Schünzel as Osdorff, Werner Krauss as Meinert, and Conrad Veidt as Dr. Julius.  As a film, this version of Tagebuch einer Verlorenen was well reviewed, but demands of the censor at the time led to cuts and even a change in its title. Once censorship was lifted after the end of WWI, scenes thought too provocative or critical of society were restored and its famous title changed back.

[The cast and crew of the first version was indeed a remarkable assembly. Oswald went on to direct many films including Different from the Others  (1919). Together, Krauss and Veidt achieved cinema immortality in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920). Schünzel would also write and direct; his best known work is the seminal Viktor und Viktoria (1933). Pictured here are Veidt and Morena in a scene from Tagebuch einer Verlorenen.]

In 1929, Böhme’s book was made into a film a second time. G.W. Pabst’s version of Tagebuch einer Verlorenen came on the heels of his now classic Pandora’s Box, a film based on the similarly controversial Lulu plays authored by Frank Wedekind. Both of these films starred Louise Brooks. Also appearing in Pabst’s Diary of a Lost Girl is Fritz Rasp as Meinert and the dancer Valeska Gert as the sadistic reform school disciplinarian. The well known character actor Kurt Gerron also has a role in this second adaption.

However, in researching my introduction to the just issued new reprint of The Diary of a Lost Girl, I found that some film databases, such as filmportal.de and IMDb, list a 1912 German production titled Tagebuch einer Verlorenen. It was directed by Fritz Bernhardt and produced by Alfred Duskes. Little else is known of the film, which is presumably lost. And, its relationship to Böhme’s book is uncertain. Does anyone know?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Uncommon image

This uncommon image of Louise Brooks, a promotional photo of the actress for the film It's the Old Army Game (1926), is for sale on eBay. I do like this image - especially so since Brooks is smiling.

The photo looks like it was taken in Florida, where scenes for It's the Old Army Game were shot. The seller notes that the picture once belonged to a Cuban magazine writer. I am sure it will sell for a lot.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Diary of a Lost Girl screens Sunday at BAM

Diary of a Lost Girl, the sensational 1929 Louise Brooks film, screens Sunday at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. I had written about this special screening, which will feature live musical accompaniment, on my Louise Brooks column on examiner.com

Today, V.A. Musetto gave it a short write-up in the New York Post. Musetto said,
The BAM Cinemafest wraps up Sunday night with 4:30 and 8 p.m. screenings of G.W. Pabst's silent "Diary of a Lost Girl'' (1929), with live music by the Irish rock collective 3epkano. It stars Louise  Brooks, the American girl with the the helmet of hair. She was dissatisfied with Hollywood and Hollywood with her when she went to Germany and made two silent classics, "Pandora's Box'' (1928) and "Diary of a Lost Girl'' with Pabst. She then traveled to Italy, where she starred in "Prix de Beaute'' (1930), a talkie directed by Augusto Gemina. Brooks returned briefly to Hollywood, retiring after making "Overland Stage Raiders'' (1938), with John Wayne. She spent her twilight years in Rochester, NY. She died in 1985, at age 79.
Of course, Brooks made Prix de Beaute (1930) in France, not Italy - though the film's director, spelled Augusto Genina, was Italian!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Some more about Diary of a Lost Girl

As the few readers of this blog know, I recently completed a long thought about project, the republication of Margarete Böhme's 1905 novel, Tagebuch einer Verlorenen, or The Diary of a Lost Girl. I first read the book a few years back, after having tracked down and purchasing for $80.00 a vintage hardback copy of the 1908 American edition.

I also collected photoplay editions, the movie tie-in books from the silent and early sound era. And somewhere along the line, it occurred to me to try and create a photoplay edition of Böhme's book. I ended up not doing that - but instead created an illustrated edition of the controversial and bestselling book. My The Diary of a Lost Girl (Louise Brooks edition) contains more than 3 dozen illustrations. Perhaps about half feature Brooks, while the other half relate to Böhme's best known book.

After giving it a lot of thought, I decided I really wanted to emphasize Böhme and her book. Why? Because, the more I looked into things and the more research I did, the more fascinated I became with this forgotten author, her little known book, and its relation to the 1929 G.W. Pabst film. I think its story is really interesting. My The Diary of a Lost Girl (Louise Brooks edition) contains a 20 page introduction, along with nearly as many pages of related material.

I hope readers will think this project is worthwhile as well. I've created a few informational pages at http://www.pandorasbox.com/diary.html and http://www.pandorasbox.com/diary-more.html Or, if you're interested, a bit more info and sample pages can be found at http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/the-diary-of-a-lost-girl-%28louise-brooks-edition%29/11256621

The Diary of a Lost Girl (Louise Brooks edition) is a 336-page softcover book priced at $24.95. It is pictured above. I am also creating a limited edition which will be available later in the summer. The limited edition will be hardback with a different dust-jacket and an accompanying free CD-Rom featuring all kinds of bonus material. (It's stuff I just couldn't fit into the book for one reason or another.) The limited edition will also be autographed by me. It is pictured at left.

I have also set up a couple of events for the book. The first is a booksigning on July 17th at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. The signing follows a screening of the 1929 G.W. Pabst film. Here is the Facebook page for the signing, and its listing on the San Francisco Chronicle website. A second event, which will include a presentation and screening, will take place on Louise Brooks' birthday, November 14th, in the Koret Auditorium at the San Francisco Public Library. A third event, at a San Francisco Bay Area bookstore, is in the works.

At each of these events, I will be giving away a free mini-pinback button  with ever purchase of the book featuring either an vintage depiction of Thymian, or an image of Louise Brooks at Thymain. The image of Thymian (pictured at right) is taken from the 1908 American edition which I bought some years back.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

San Francisco Silent Film Festival

The brochure for this year's San Francisco Silent Film Festival is hot off the press, and look who's on the cover. 

The Festival takes place July 15-18th at the historic Castro Theater. And what's more, the 1929 Louise Brooks' film, Diary of a Lost Girl, will be shown as this year's centerpiece film. It's the Founders Presentation film.

Along with a great line up of films and special guests,  these beautifully designed keepsake brochures are just one more reason to attend this year's Festival . . . . 

And heck, I'll be there too.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Louise Brooks in the lobby

Last night, my wife and I went to see The Prisoner of Zenda (1936), starring Ronald Colman and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. The film was being shown at the Rafael Theater in San Rafael. On hand were members of the Fairbanks' family, as well as a couple of Academy Award winning special effects guys who spoke about the making of the film. They even showed behind-the-scenes footage shot by Fairbanks Jr.

The theater is home to the California Film Institute. As I entered the theater lobby I was surprised to come across a large poster promoting membership in the Film Institute. The poster featured a big portrait of Louise Brooks. I was very tempted to steal it. But somehow, I resisted temptation. Instead, I had my picture taken next to it. I guess that is the next best thing. (For those seeking less of me and more of thee, a close-up of the poster is shown below. Sorry about the glare.)

The California Film Institute restored the Rafael Theatre, which is now officially called the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center. The art moderne Rafael was itself a 1938 renovation of the earlier, fire-damaged Orpheus Theatre. Today, it houses three screens specializing in independent and foreign films. 

According to its entry on the CinemaTreasures.org website, "The Rafael was built in 1920 as the first run movie house Orpheus. It was enlarged and a new screen was added in 1926. After a 1937 fire gutted the victorian style auditorium it was remodeled in the art deco style and reopened as a second run movie house. It even served time in the 1960s as a Disney Family Theater. It was heavily damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake and was closed. In 1998 the majority of it was gutted with half of the building being demolished. It was rebuilt as a triplex in 1999 and shows art and foreign films."

Most all of Louise Brooks' American silent films were shown at the Orpheus in the Twenties. (Most of Brooks' sound films from the Thirties were shown at the El Camino, which was located nearby but today no longer stands.)  Among the Brooks' films screened there were The Street of Forgotten Men on September 12, 1925, Just Another Blonde on April 14-15, 1927, and Beggars of Life from November 19-21, 1928.
 
This is not the first time I've been to the Rafael. I met Peter Cowie, author of Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever, there in 2006 when the theater screened Pandora's Box and Cowie introduced the film and spoke about his book.

The Rafael is a charming theater. If you have chance, it is worth visiting.

A favorite image

This vintage postcard depicts Louise Brooks in the G.W. Pabst film, Pandora's Box (1929). It is a favorite of mine. I thought you might like it too.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A bit more about Diary of a Lost Girl

Yesterday, I received finished copies of my new "Louise Brooks edition" of The Diary of a Lost Girl, by Margarete Böhme. I think it looks great. I am pleased. Should anyone care to purchase a copy, the book is for sale at http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/the-diary-of-a-lost-girl-%28louise-brooks-edition%29/11263780 There, you can even check out some sample pages.


I also recently received my first blurb! It's from film biographer and silent film historian Lon Davis, the author of Silent Lives and King of the Movies: Francis X. Bushman. Davis said:

"Thomas Gladysz is the leading authority on all matters pertaining to the legendary Louise Brooks. We owe him a debt of gratitude for bringing the groundbreaking novel, The Diary of a Lost Girl - the basis of Miss Brooks's classic 1929 film - back from obscurity. It remains a fascinating work."

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A movie herald: what it tells us

On eBay, there is an The American Venus movie herald for sale. Just about any movie herald from the silent era is uncommon. Some are rare. What makes this particular herald unusual are the hand written annotations. They have a story to tell.


The American Venus was released in early 1926, usually (depending on the city or town) in January or February. This herald is dated 1927, apparently by someone who saw the film. That means that the two Michigan theaters which showed the film in May of that year, one in Petersburg and one in Blissfield, showed it late in the exhibition life of the film. That was not usual for small towns, which usually but not always got major films later than the bigger city and towns.


The film is partly about a beauty contest, and as I have found out in my research, many theaters sponsored their own beauty contests or fashion shows in connection with the showing of the film. Such was the case with the Petersburg and Blissfield Theaters. (I tried to find the names of these small-town theaters, but couldn't find anything on cinematreasures.org. Anyone know anything more?)

Beauty contests, and to a lesser degree this film, helped "define" the notion of beauty. The film's star, Fay Lanphier, was Miss America in 1925 and was considered an ideal beauty. I have seen many newspapers advertisements which detailed Lanphier's measurements.She is shown, arms outstretched, in the interior of the herald.

On the back of the herald is a customized message from the sponsoring theaters which reads "The lady turning in measurements nearest to the AMERICAN VENUS will be given -- ten tickets to this theatre." "Measurements must be turned in on playing date--at box office."

What's also interesting about the herald are the handwritten notations. They offer someone's measurements, and in comparison's to Lanphier's. On the back are even recorded someone's weight in notations dating from the 1930's. That someone, who weighed 169 pounds in 1939, it seems, held onto this herald for more than 10 years. The American Venus must have made an impression.This battered herald, this scrap of paper, tells their story.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Postcards to Louise Brooks for sale

A collection of postcards sent to Louise Brooks (later in her life) from the likes of actor Roddy McDowell, composer David Diamond, film historians Kevin Brownlow, John Kobal, and Richard Lamparski, and others are currently for sale on eBay. The eBay page, with many illustrations, can be found here. The asking price is $1,000.

According to the seller, these postcards were purchased from Mary Kuziak, the great-niece of Marjorie Van Tassell, who was a good friend of Louise Brooks and lived in the same apartment building in Rochester, New York.

A number of the cards are pictured on eBay (but are difficult to read), and some have interesting comments. For example, in one Kevin Brownlow writes and mentions how her book, Lulu in Hollywood, then just recently published, is selling and being "talked about" in London. In another, Richard Lamparski tells that he just spoke with actress Rose Hobart, and mentions that the actors now living at the Motion Picture Home (Viola Dana, Mary Astor, Regis Toomey) now have their own phones.


All together, it is an interesting lot. Be sure and check it out. Someday, hopefully soon, someone will edit and publish a collection of Louise Brooks letters. Until then, here is a bit of the other side of the correspondence.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Canary Murder Case / Ira Resnick at George Eastman House

In what's sure to be a great "double bill," this Friday the Dryden Theatre at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York will screen The Canary Murder Case (1929), which stars Louise Brooks. The screening will be preceded by a special presentation by Ira Resnick, author of Starstruck: Vintage Movie Posters from Classic Hollywood.

Originally shot as a silent film, The Canary Murder Case is notable for many reasons. It was the first film in which the popular detective Philo Vance appeared. The Canary Murder Case is also notable as the last American film in which Brooks had a starring role. Her refusal to re-shoot her scenes for sound effectively ended her career in the United States.

Friday’s screening will be preceded by a special presentation by Ira Resnick, a well known collector of movie posters and movie art,. His new book, Starstruck: Vintage Movie Posters from Classic Hollywood, bears a special relationship to Brooks. In the book, Resnick, writes about his "passion" for Brooks and tells the story behind his acquisition of some truly marvelous lobby cards, posters, one sheets, and stills featuring the actress For those keeping count, there are ten drop-dead gorgeous Brooks-related images in this new book. One of them is for The Canary Murder Case.

Fans will also want to listen to WXXI’s “Connection with Bob Smith” radio program, broadcast from 1 to 2 p.m. (Eastern time) on Thursday, June 10. The show will feature a one-hour live interview with Resnick and Eastman House assistant curator of motion pictures, Jim Healy. The interview will stream online at http://interactive.wxxi.org/listen

Ira Resnick’s presentation, and the screening of The Canary Murder Case, will take place at 8 pm on June 11th at the Dryden Theatre at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. More info at http://dryden.eastmanhouse.org/films/ira-resnick-in-person-the-canary-murder-case/ and at http://blog.eastmanhouse.org/2010/06/09/get-%E2%80%98starstruck%E2%80%99-friday-eve-at-the-dryden/

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Louise Brooks on African postage stamp

I just came across this 2009 postage stamp, which features Louise Brooks. It was issued in Benin, a former French colony located between Nigeria and Togo, on the west coast of Africa. The world is a curious thing, and its getting curious and curiouser all the time.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Reviews of The Diary of a Lost Girl

In preparation for writing my introduction to Margarete Bohme's The Diary of a Lost Girl, I did a lot of research. However, there just isn't much in English about this German author and her now little known book. I was especially interested in finding reviews, or any kind of critical commentary. It was slim pickings to say the least.

Bohme's book was translated into English and published in Britain in 1907. There, it was praised by the writer and man of letters, Hall Caine. Though little known today, Caine was an immensely popular novelist and playwright during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. At one point, he was among the best-selling writers in England. For example, his 1897 novel, The Christian, was the first in Britain to sell over a million copies. Caine had also been secretary to Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and friendly with Robert Browning, Matthew Arnold, and George Bernard Shaw. Caine's good friend, Bram Stoker, dedicated Dracula to him under the nickname "Hommy-Beg."

English editions carried Caine's endorsement. “It is years since I read anything of the kind that moved me to so much sympathy and admiration.  More reality, more truth, more sincerity, I have rarely met with. . . . I know it to be true because I know the life it depicts. . . . It is difficult for me to believe that a grown man or woman with a straight mind and a clean heart can find anything that is not of good influence in this most moving, most convincing, most poignant story of a great-hearted girl who kept her soul alive amidst all the mire that surrounded her poor body.”

The Manchester Guardian review echoed Caine, “The moral justification of such a publication is to be found in the fact that it shrivels up sentimentality; the weak thing cannot stand and look at such stark degradation.”

In the United States, where the book was published in 1908, the book received little attention and few notices. It did manage, however, to find at least a few readers. The Anglo-American writer and aesthete Percival Pollard (a good friend of H.L. Mencken) praised it lavishly on more than one occasion. And the novelist Henry Miller included it on his list of the books which influenced him the most. Miller’s list of essential books was included in Raymond Queneau’s Pour une Bibliothèque Idéale (Gallimard, 1956).

I managed to find a few other critical bits & pieces here and there, but that's about it. My favorite English-language blurb comes from the Nelson Evening Mail, a New Zealand newspaper. They referred to The Diary of a Lost Girl as “The saddest of modern books.”

Friday, June 4, 2010

Piracy and The Diary of a Lost Girl

Today, the pirating of movies, music, and even books is a major concern. But back in the early years of the 20th century, when Margarete Böhme wrote the book which became the 1929 Louise Brooks film, Diary of a Lost Girl, piracy was also a problem.

Böhme's book was a huge bestseller in Germany - a phenomenon really. It sold more than 100,000 copies in less than two years. It was so popular that it was translated into 14 languages and was published across Europe - from England and France to Hungary and Russia. There was such demand for the book that there were even pirated editions in at least two countries, The Netherlands and Poland.

In The Netherlands, the book was retitled and published as Thymian, the name of the "lost girl" and the character played by Louise Brooks. This unauthorized translation was issued by Albert de Lange, an otherwise reputable publisher. From what I was able to find out, the translation was by the noted poet Hillegonda van Uildriks, alias Gonne Loman-van Uildriks (1863-1921). Now remembered as a translator, Uildriks was the first to translate Jane Austen into Dutch. (She also translated Robert Louis Stevenson and H.G. Wells, among others.)

Böhme's book was published in Dutch as Thymian, with the subtitle "From the life of a fallen woman." The cover pictured above is unusual in its visual representation of the book's heroine. (Image courtesy of Digitale Bibliotheek voor de Nederlandse Letteren.)

Böhme's book was also published in Poland in both authorized and unauthorized editions. I was able to uncover an interesting advertisement for the authorized translation which references the pirated version.

The book was issued in Poland under the title Pamiętnik Kobiety Upadłej. This 1906 advertisement notes “Every mature man or women should read this book.” Also, it warns against the unauthorized edition, and notes that the book is available in all bookshops. The authorized Polish edition was translated by Felicya Nossig, who would later translate Selma Lagerlöf, Josef Conrad, and other writers of note. Nossig is noted in the advertisement. (For those keeping track, the unauthorized translation was titled Pamiętnik Uwiedzionej.)

If any readers of this blog have any early editions of Böhme's book in any language other than German, I would appreciate hearing from you. The information in this post comes from my introduction to the new "Louise Brooks edition" to The Diary of a Lost Girl. More info about the book can be found hereBuy a copy or check out sample pages and more at Lulu.com

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Free shpping on Diary of a Lost Girl

The aptly named Lulu.com has a special offer going on copies of The Diary of a Lost Girl, which I have just republished in a new, illustrated, "Louise Brooks edition." The book looks great.

Lulu.com is offering free shipping during the summer.

As fans of Louise Brooks are  aware, the 1929 silent film, Diary of a Lost Girl, was based on a best-selling book by Margarete Bohme first published in Germany in 1905. Though little known today, the book was a sensation at the beginning of the 20th century. This new edition of the original English language translation brings this important work back into print after more than 100 years.

According to one article I found, Bohme's book was considered so scandalous that even Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, would have banned it. That's according to an article in the New York Times, which I cite in my introduction. 

Interestingly, Stoker's good friend, the English writer Hall Caine (to whom Dracula is dedicated under the nickname "Hommy-Beg") had nothing but praise for the book. Caine wrote “It is years since I read anything of the kind that moved me to so much sympathy and admiration.  More reality, more truth, more sincerity, I have rarely met with. . . . I know it to be true because I know the life it depicts. . . . It is difficult for me to believe that a grown man or woman with a straight mind and a clean heart can find anything that is not of good influence in this most moving, most convincing, most poignant story of a great-hearted girl who kept her soul alive amidst all the mire that surrounded her poor body.”

More info about the book can be found hereBuy a copy or check out sample pages and more at Lulu.com
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