Friday, December 23, 2016

The shocking edition of Diary of a Lost Girl

Yesterday, I received something very, very special in the mail - my recent order of a scarce edition of Tagebuch einer Verlorenen / Diary of a Lost Girl. Wow, what a score! It came from Germany, and is in beautiful condition, near fine. I have been hunting for this edition for some time now, ever since I worked on the Louise Brooks edition of Diary of a Lost Girl, which was published in 2010.

This illustrated edition of Margarete Bohme's book contains dozens of illustrations, some of them strangle, and some surprisingly risque.

If I am decoding his bookplate correctly, the owner bought the book in 1917. Also laid in were 4 scarce postcards from the 1918 film version of Tagebuch einer Verlorenen. Each of the postcards depict Erna Morena, who played Thymain (the role played by Louise Brooks in 1929); two postcards also depict Conrad Veidt, who starred in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Casablanca.

I had read that the book in its original German was far more suggestive than the English language translation. The owner, a close reader, discretely penciled in notes, like the cost of prostitutes (notice the amounts penciled next to each portrait below).

He also penciled a comment to the right of the last image: "Morbus gallicus," which translates as "The French disease," or syphilis.  No wonder Walter Benjamin described this book as something like “a complete inventory of the sexual trade.”

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