Poland Street Underground: 13-14 November 2009

Poland Street Underground returns with Kontrol: a multi-media examination of freedom, taking its cue from the fall of the Iron Curtain and Orwell's 1984. Within this space, Black Market Books is happy to contribute an unusual selection of banned and clandestine literature.

The Cold War presented itself as a combat between rival political and ideological systems. Naturally each aimed to discredit and destabilise the other. Underground traffic, smuggled writings, went both ways. From the East to the West came pamphlets extolling the virtues of communism and the class struggle, disguised as well-known works of fiction or as harmless commercial brochures. From the West to the East went satirical newspapers masquerading as productions from the East German press. Later, in the face of government and public hysteria surrounding the Red Army Faction and other such armed groups, the West banned home-grown militant magazines such as Radikal. For different reasons they also banned the German translation of Norman Spinrad's The Iron Dream, a science fiction novel about Hitler's parallel life as a graphic novelist in the USA. In the context of Poland Street Underground, Black Market Books juxtaposes these works with other victims of censorship through the ages: novels, poems, religious and astrological tracts, hippy magazines and revolutionary calls to arms.

Further details and prices on request: blackmarketbooks at hushmail.com.

Tomás Sanchez
Disputationum de sancto matrimonii sacramento ... libri decem in tres tomos distributi
Brescia: Franciscus Thebaldinus, 1624

Early edition (first published 1602) of this comprehensive Catholic treatise on marriage. 'Truly a very storehouse of curious facts', dealing with such matters as adultery, copulation, virginity, bestiality, bigamy, demons, frigidity, hermaphrodites, impotence, incest, kissing and sodomy. It was promptly placed on the Index of Forbidden Books.

Franciscus Allaeius [Yves de Paris]
Astrologiae Nova methodus. [With:] Fatum Universi Observatum a Francisco Allaeio Arabe Christiano. [And:] Ad Illustrissimos Viros Amplissimi Senatus Armorici. In Librum De Fato Universi nuper editum. Disceptatio P. Ivonis Parisini Capuc.
[Rennes:] 1654-1655

A compilation of rare and curious astrological works, allegedly by a Christian Arab named Franciscus Allaeius, but in fact by Yves de Paris (1590-1678). In the year of their publication the first two works in this volume were condemned and burned. The cause of controversy appears to have been the numerous passages which prophesied future disasters for the great powers of Europe.

[Adriaan Beverland]
Peccatum Originale
Eleutheropolis [London or Amsterdam]: Extra plateam obscuram, sine privilegio auctoris, absque ubi & quando, [1678]

First edition of this unusual academic work which portrayed the doctrine of Adam and Eve’s original sin as a descent into carnal pleasure. It was condemned by the University of Leiden as 'scandalous and obscene abortions from a depraved brain'. Beverland was thereby banished from Holland and went into exile in London, where he remained, increasingly paranoid, until his death in 1717.

Paul Verlaine
“Hombres” (Hommes)
[Paris:] Imprimé sous le manteau et ne se vend nul part, [1904]

First edition of this collection of explicit homosexual love poems, 'printed undercover and not for sale anywhere'. It includes the 'Sonnet to the Arsehole' which Verlaine wrote in collaboration with his lover Arthur Rimbaud, whom he shot and wounded in 1870. The editor Le Dantec refused to include this collection in the modern critical edition of Verlaine's complete works.

Vladimir Nabokov
Paris: The Olympia Press, 1955

William Burroughs
The Naked Lunch
Paris: The Olympia Press, 1959

First editions of two novels, both highly influential in literary terms, which aroused the wrath of the censors on their original issue. Both were published by Maurice Girodias's Olympia Press. Lolita was denounced as ‘filth’ and ‘sheer unrestrained pornography’ when it was published; swiftly banned in France, it was subjected to a protracted legal battle there as well as being seized by the British customs. Nabokov commented: ‘my moral defence of the book is the book itself.’ Legal proceedings over Naked Lunch continued in the USA until the mid-60s.

[Rosa Luxemburg]
Hásla 1go Maja [in:] Sprawa Robotnicza
[Paris: A. Reiff], April, 1895

Iconic red-paper issue of this socialist periodical, containing Rosa Luxemburg’s Slogan for the 1st of May. 'Long live the Constitution! Long live the eight-hour Day! Long live Socialism!' From the archive of the Polish Social Democratic Party (SDKPiL).

Ferdinand Lassalle
Program robotników
Warsaw: [Laskauer] for "Bibljoteka Naukowa", 1905

Rare survival from the height of the 1905 revolution, a Polish edition of the Workers' Manifesto (originally published in German in 1862).

Soldatskaia Pamtiaka
(Perepechatno s izdaniia "Iskry")
[Geneva or London, Tipografiia Bunda, c. 1905/06]

'Soldier, remember, you are going to die'. An anti-militaristic flyer, printed for distribution among Russian soldiers fighting the revolutionaries of 1905/06, and calling on them not to shoot at the enemy, but rather at their own officers. Printed on thin paper, so that it could be easily smuggled, and made into cigarettes after reading.

Warsaw, Centralny Komitet Robotniczy Polskiej Partij Socjalisticznnej
24 April 1906

An illegally-printed broadside celebrating the daring escape of ten political prisoners from the Pawiak prison in Warsaw. 'May they live in freedom.'

Czeslaw Milosz
The Captive Mind
London: Secker and Warburg, 1953

First English edition of this famous Polish critique of the relationship of intellectuals to the totalitarian state, written after the author's exile to Paris. Inscribed by Milosz, with a signed letter and notes.

Four Cold War Tarnschriften (Camouflaged Writings):

Erich Maria Remarque
Im Westen nichts Neues [All Quiet on the Western Front]
[Berlin:] Ullstein, [no date but c.1956]

Disguised as a (surprisingly slim) edition of the famous German anti-war novel All Quiet on the Western Front, this is actually an essay justifying the suppression of the 1956 Hungarian revolution.

Herbert Adams
Zwischen 10 und 12
Munich: Wilhelm Goldmann, [no date]

A fake German edition of a Herbert Adams detective novel, Fate Laughs, first published in 1935. The first and last leaves contain the beginning and end of Adams's text. Concealed within this is a 26-page a piece on Marxism for young people.

Prospectus for Rodenstock-Sonnenbrillen
[undated but apparently 1958]

In plain wrappers. The first page offers an advertisement for sunglasses manufacturers Rodenstock of Munich. The inside offers 'The True Path to the Reunification of Germany as a Democratic and Peace-Loving State'.

Bernauer General-Anzeiger
June 1959

This 'Bernauer General Advertizer' is in fact an issue of the West German satirical anti-communist magazine Tarantel, printed in Berlin and smuggled into the Eastern zone. Front page news is the 'fairytale life' and luxury dwellings of East German politicians. According to the (very) small print on the front cover, 'This special number appears without licence from the Soviet Regime and is uncensored. If you like it, pass it on. If you don't like it, write to us. If you feel in danger, give it to a Vopo [Volkspolizei] or a Party Comrade. You'll have got rid of the responsibility and we'll have gained new readers.'

Oz Magazine: Emergency Issue

In 1971 the publishers of the British underground magazine OZ were brought to trial, charged with 'conspiring to produce a magazine containing obscene, lewd, indecent and sexually perverted articles, cartoons and drawings with intent to debauch and corrupt the morals of children and other young persons and to arouse and implant in their minds lustful and perverted ideas'. The trial extended to great length and became a cause celèbre.

Norman Spinrad
Der stählerne Traum
Munich: Wilhelm Heyne, 1983

Banned German edition of Spinrad's The Iron Dream, first published in the USA in 1972. Following the First World War, Adolf Hitler makes his way to New York, where he becomes a comic-book illustrator and science fiction author. His award-winning novel, Lord of the Swastikas, is presented here, and reformulates the rise of Nazism as part-fantasy novel, part biker-gang saga. Also included is a critical assessment of Hitler's work by the academic Homer Whipple. The German government didn't see the joke, however.

Radikal 153.2
November 1995

Militant action magazine, advocating armed struggle. This issue contains a long piece on techniques for avoiding surveillance, illustrated by scenes of Thomson and Thompson, the two bungling detectives from the Tintin books. Radikal was published anonymously and continuously for over 25 years; in 1995, the year this issue was published, it was declared a criminal organization and the magazine was declared as 'entirely criminal content'. It still suffers government pressure today.