Who was Alexander Trocchi?

Alexander Trocchi (1925-1984) was a writer primarily known for his novels Young Adam (adapted to film in 2003) and Cain’s Book. Though born and educated in Glasgow, he wrote erotic fiction (or db’s — dirty books) for Maurice Girodias’ Olympia Press in Paris (where he also edited the literary journal Merlin) and then lived in New York and London. His work was later popularised by the new Scottish writing boom of the mid-late 1990s, most evidently by the Rebel Inc. imprint of Canongate, who reissued two of his best known works and a biography into the bargain.

Who published his db’s?

Trocchi published his quick turnaround erotic fiction under Girodias’ Olympia imprint as Frances Lengel, Frank Harris and Carmencita de las Lunas. These included Helen and Desire, The Carnal Days of Helen Seferis, White Thighs, School for Wives, Thongs, Young Adam, My Lifes and Loves (as Frank Harris), Sappho of Lesbos and School for Sin.
Which editions are the best?

A matter of some debate and purely according to taste. The first editions on Olympia Press have obvious commercial value, while the version of Young Adam issued by Calder Books has much of the erotic content purged in the name of rendering it more ‘literary’. Young Adam and Helen and Desire were later reissued by Canongate’s Rebel Inc. imprint. Most of Trocchi’s output has been reissued in one form or another and is obtainable via the usual internet-based book retailers.

Are there any biographies of Trocchi?

Several. You can investigate these further on the well-edited wikipedia entry but special mention is worthy of Allen Campbell and Tim Niel’s A Life in Pieces and James Campbell’s Paris Interzone, both of which provide additional context of Trocchi’s position in the post-war Transatlantic counterculture.


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