Saturday, July 09, 2005

Candy & Candide

When I was in high school, boys would walk up to me and say, "Candy, like the book?" I knew the book existed because my friends in South America had told me about it. I knew it was pornographic. I had no idea what it was though. I would always say, "No." (To this day, I can't figure out how the boys knew about this book.)

I finally got a copy of Candy. It is by Terry Southern who died in 1995. The book was written in 1958 when I was 5 years old.

The dust cover says it is a satire on Voltaire's Candide. Candide was a Freshman Studies book at Lawrence, so having taught it I know it pretty well. Candy also appears to be considerably less pornographic (and probably more interesting) than I thought. It will be interesting reading both Candy and Lolita. Maybe I'll read them back to back.

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Here are some comments on Candy by "Dunzy," who responded to my post on the subject on BookCrossing. (Dunzy happens to be very knowledgeable about a lot of things.)

"Candy" was sooo dandy! Early editions of Terry Southern's book are behind glass in scholarly collections now, but 45 years ago they were everywhere -- well, everywhere that parents wouldn't think to look. Copies had previously been waved around a lot in courtrooms.

Southern's credits go on and on: "Dr. Strangelove", "Barbarella", "Easy Rider", protogonzo journalism, etc. See the lively site maintained by his son, Nile: (Nile is the author of "The Candy Men", an affectionate memoir that came out last year.)

Dunzy's BookCrossing website is at

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Here's more from Dunzy:

“Maxwell Kenton” was Southern’s nom-de-plume on Candy’s first edition. Southern had two other books in typescript and didn’t want to identify himself with a hot-and-hasty bit of Olympia Press trash. Southern asked Mason Hoffenberg to help him for the sake of a quick turnaround. They were both young writers starving picturesquely in Paris, and they needed the money. Though the book was a huge success, no real money went to the writers or the original publisher; bootleggers made a fortune.

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