Times Square, Peggy Roth, Southern Gothic, Céline, and Nietzsche
Roth’s mail-order offerings in the 1940s and 1950s were similar to the materials offered in the Times Square bookstores of the same period. Those locations were often raided because of the sexual emphasis of the books, magazines, and photographs. Roth offered similar materials, with circulars featuring hermaphroditism, sadomasochism, bondage, female domination, and flagellation. Unlike bookstores and newsstands, customers did not have to be embarrassed by frequenting sleazy locations. In addition to exploitive items, Roth published two well-written and entertaining spoofs on the Southern Gothic genre; Milton Hindus’s groundbreaking study of his visit with Louis-Ferdinand Céline, author of anti-Semitic pamphlets in the late 1930s; and a book purportedly by Nietzsche on his relationship with his sister. The general assumption that it was a hoax is disputed by several recent scholars, so powerfully apposite is it to Nietzsche’s other writings.
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