Notes from the archives

I. Boarding School, Hollywood, & New York City

Pamela Moore wrote most of Chocolates for Breakfast during the summer of 1955. She was 17 years old at the time, working as a stage manager for a summer stock theater company.

The events and characters depicted in the novel are roughly parallel in Pamela’s life in the two years leading up to then as a girl of 15 and 16, going back and forth between Rosemary Hall, Los Angeles, and New York City.

Notes from Pamela’s friend Valerie “Veigs” sound as if they could have been written by Janet, Courtney’s best friend in the novel. The diary entries of her meetings with Michael “Dandy Kim” Caborn-Waterfield in 1953 read like sketches of the scenes with Anthony Neville in the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan:

June 14th Kim Caborn-Waterfield asked Val to bring me to meet him in his Plaza suite. He was wearing striped shorts and shirt tied at midriff, and had several days’ growth of beard. Then went to LI deb party with Buzz Henchly and Daphne Sellar and Val and others. Couldn’t think of anything but Kim. Back to Val’s at 7, woke up 1 hr late for Browns.

June 15 Kim called; picked me up at 5 in white coat, black stovepipe trousers, white french-cuff shirt, powder blue tie and white shoes. Sat in cab as he got white luggage from Plaza; went with him to apt. of their car dealer, 5 ave. at 954 (21) “I want your mother to think well of me, Kim.”Watched “Vie de Boheme” xxx xxx Kim got me home by 12, my deadline.

June 19 Remembered man’s name and called Kim. He was worried about how we got the number. Said he’d been in country and was leaving next day for Bermuda.

As emerged only later, when Dandy Kim became a celebrity in the UK through his business dealings and high-profile court cases, those trips to Bermuda had included runs between Miami and Havana as well — Bermuda in 1953 being a Crown colony still under British rule, where the holder of a British passport and a pilot’s license might freely purchase surplus arms from World War II.

In interviews and journal entries, Pamela expressed surprise and frustration that people mistook her for the character of Courtney. She herself had only been a chronicler of this high society world of decadence, describing rather than endorsing it; she was much more of an observer and outsider than she had made Courtney to be.

Janet Parker was possibly a composite character of several of her friends and classmates, including Valerie “Veigs” Veigel. However none of them took their own lives, as Janet does in the novel.

Pamela’s mother Isabel Moore was a writer, not an actress, but Isabel’s career did veer from extravagant heights to hardscrabble lows: from being an editor of Photoplay magazine and confidante of screen stars in the 1930s and 40s, to churning out over a dozen paperback titles in later years under various pseudonyms.

Isabel Moore did live for a time at the Garden of Allah in Hollywood, and was in fact evicted for non payment of rent; all her clothes and other belongings were impounded, and she was never able to reclaim them. However it was her older daughter Elaine, Pamela’s half-sister, who actually lived there with Isabel, and whose own belongings were lost along with her mother’s.

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The staff at Rosemary Hall, the boarding school on which Pamela Moore based the fictional Scaisebrooke. Carolyn Swift was the inspiration for the kindly teacher Miss Rosen in the novel.

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Letter to Pamela Moore from Valerie “Veigs” Veigel

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Michael “Dandy Kim” Caborn-Waterfield, seen leaving a courtroom in several years later, when he was accused of robbing the safe of film mogul Jack Warner’s house in the Riviera.

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Isabel Moore’s stories were widely featured, and well-compensated, until the gradual demise of pulp fiction in the 1950s.

II. Crossing to Europe, June 1956

Rinehart and Company bought Pamela’s novel in April of 1956, and the publication date was set for September of that year. With Rinehart’s advance, Pamela booked passage on an ocean liner from New York to England, en route to France.

On the way to Europe, Pamela Moore, now 18 years old, met Edouard de Laurot, age 34. Laurot was a man of many identities: a film maker, war hero, writer, critic, and advocate of a politically engaged avant garde — le cinéma engagé.

He had recently co-founded Film Culture Magazine with Jonas and Adolfas Mekas, and had worked on the set of Jonas Mekas’ film Guns of the Trees. Laurot would soon begin directing Sunday Junction, never finished, an experimental film about America’s love of the automobile, set against the vast expanses of highways, shopping malls and gas stations.

After landing in England, Pamela writes a letter to Edouard, who has continued on to France.  She tells him that she will be coming to Paris sooner than originally planned.

None of Edouard’s letters to Pamela survive. Many of his letters to the Mekas brothers contain instructions to destroy them once his questions had been answered and his requests complied with. Pamela may have followed Edouard’s directives more scrupulously than others, or destroyed them for reasons of her own.

That first 1956 letter, in which Edouard announces to the Mekas brothers that he has met Pamela Moore, bears an unusual heading:

Keep my letters. Some things in the future may be needed for record.

III. The French ‘nouvelle édition’

That first week of meeting on the boat, Pamela and Edouard began outlining her next book, which eventually became Prophets without Honor, her second novel, never published, although her new agent Sterling Lord had sold it to Alfred Knopf on the basis of Pamela’s outline and synopsis.

Working out of a Paris hotel room over the course of days and weeks, Pamela and Edouard also began drafting new material to be included in the French edition of Chocolates for Breakfast.

The first French edition, published by Julliard in November of 1956, had been a straight translation of the text as published in the US just a few months prior. This French edition had already begun to appear in bookstores when Moore came to René Julliard with dozens of typewritten pages that she wanted him to include in the book.

As Pamela would later tell the story, René had at first refused, reportedly telling her “Pamela, even if you were my mistress, I couldn’t do this.” Eventually, however, he agreed. Julliard released the second edition with the heading “New Edition, Revised by the Author,” printed on the cover.

This nouvelle édition omits entire scenes and stretches of dialogue from the original published version, and introduces a great deal of new material, including a preface about the kind of self-censorship (censure par anticipation) that Moore believed she had imposed on herself in the U.S.

What is the purpose of a preface? Apology? Explanation? Commentary? Indication of weakness or of bad faith—if it is written by the author—obligatory praise, perhaps, if the work of another. I never understood the purpose of prefaces, and I have little desire to write one. A note, nonetheless, is called for here.

The first French edition of my book was translated from the American version, which I never considered to be complete. I was in the United States at the time and it didn’t seem possible to me to bring out my book in its integral version. The possibility of publishing the latter was offered to me when I met my French publisher in Paris.  Here then is the unexpurgated version.

Is that to say that the American version was subject to arbitrary alterations? Certainly not. It was rather a constraint that I imposed upon myself and which I would like to be able to name: a censorship by anticipation.

This same constraint exists in the mind of many American writers who are conscious of the preferences of the audience about whom they are writing, and who also understand quite well how that audience is viewed by those that serve it. It is difficult for us to offer each reader the unvarnished truth, especially when it concerns the essential conflict that exists between the principles of our way of life and the demands of the human condition.

This conflict lies latent in all the hearts in our country, and torments many of us. We turn away from this terrifying truth with what I would term a kind of collective bad faith.* This is what led me to express myself with some reticence in the course of my initial work. But after having reflected on it, I felt obliged to try to arrive at the causes of this moral crisis that so afflicts the youth whom I describe in this book.” -P.M.

* Mauvaise foi commune: communal bad faith, collective false consciousness, lack of integrity.

In a later letter to Laurot, Pamela transcribes a review from L’intransigeante by a French critic who had evidently read both the original French edition and the revised nouvelle édition:

I received a letter from Odette Arnaud saying “Les journaux parlent maintenant de votre nouvelle édition. Certain y mettent l’incorrigible ironie que vous avez deja constaté des journalistes de chez nous.” Enclosed was a piece (two paragraphs) from l’Intransigeant: “Adieu Fraicheur *

Miss Moore has learned by her stay in Paris that Burgundy is not an aperitif, Mr. Neville now drinks champagne. . . the changes all come to one point: the heroine has set herself to thinking. Now she walks to the window and says, “I see here a country where only misery and injustice thrive.”

Julliard, give us back the gauche freshness of the original version!”

* Adieu Fraicheur (Farewell Freshness), yet another pun on the title of Françoise Sagan’s Bonjour Tristesse (Hello Sadness).

Laurot’s military, even aristocratic bearing, his sense of participation in history and tales of combat and political intrigue, all must have made a deep impression on an 18 year old American who had just emerged from the world of prep schools, Hollywood film types and Manhattan drinking establishments.

Pamela fervently enlisted in his causes, which included the production of Sunday Junction, Laurot’s experimental film about cars, highways, suburbia and American culture. Moore purchased or smuggled into France materiel including cameras, film stock, even a car.

She funneled most of her earnings to Laurot, drove him to Stockholm and Switzerland, ran errands for him and awaited his return in various border towns. Laurot’s work involved promoting various films, festivals, and Film Culture magazine, throughout Western Europe and in the Soviet-controlled East as well. Laurot’s passport shows several forays behind the Iron Curtain between the years 1956 – 58, into Poland and East Germany.


Left to right:Pamela Moore in a trenchcoat and sunglasses on a pier; a car unloading from a ferry; a ship at dock. Strip of negatives found in Jonas Mekas’ archives.

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Left to right: Jonas Mekas, Adolfas Mekas, Edouard de Laurot

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There were some worth while people on board; among them the American Françoise Sagan (but a deeper person) an 18 year old girl writer whose first book is being published and who traveled on the advance money. She became first interested then engrossed in our ideas and I have little doubt her next book (which we started outlining together) will at least bear visible traces of our encounters.

– undated letter ca. June 1956, from Edouard de Laurot to Jonas & Adolfas Mekas

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. . . I am in equilibrium again. As you say, the dialectic.

I have been progressing in my elementary education as you outlined it, so perhaps when I see you again I shall have become more conversant.

– from Pamela Moore to Edouard de Laurot, first letter, dated June 14 1956

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Pamela Moore in Paris, Aug. 1956, just before the publication of Chocolates in the US.

 

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Pamela & Edouard, Geneve, ca 1957

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Military decoration Odznaka za Rany i Kontuzje,found among the photographs of Pamela and Edouard in Mekas’ archives.

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Laurot’s visa into Communist Poland, annulled, 1957

IV. Book becomes bestseller;
author chooses between exile, imprisonment and death.

On occasional trips back to the US, staying in her mother’s apartment in New York City, Pamela would listen to records of the Red Army Chorus, and write to Edouard about how alienated she felt from the world she had grown up in.

From Europe, she would write her new literary agent, Sterling Lord, sometimes requesting him to send money to her in Paris. Although Sterling had not been Pamela’s agent when she sold Chocolates to Rinehart, he did broker the sale of the book’s paperback and film rights; as well as the sale to Alfred A. Knopf of Moore’s second novel, Prophets without Honor.

Chocolates was gradually becoming a bestseller in France as well as in the US, with well over half a million paperback sales in the US by April 1958. Still, Sterling sometimes had to remind her that she had already received all payments due to date.

Later in 1958, mutual friends introduced Pamela to Adam Kanarek, a Polish-Jewish refugee who had survived the Holocaust in hiding, and who was now working in the Slavonic Division library of Columbia University.

Pamela and Adam began corresponding during the periods when she was in Europe. She exhorted him to be more politically active, to embrace a philosophy of commitment and engagement in history. Kanarek once responded that, having witnessed both the Nazi genocide and the Soviet occupation, he was himself skeptical of all ideologies and their calls to action.

Pamela Moore and Adam Kanarek were married in 1958. During the six years of their marriage, Moore finished three more novels: The Exile of Suzy Q, East Side Story (AKA The Pigeons of St. Mark’s Place) and The Horsy Set, but none of these were to prove as successful as her first book.

Her husband Adam was at first her loyal champion and guardian from the threats of the outside world; threats real and imagined, including Laurot and his henchmen; protecting her privacy, and creating a sheltered space in which she might write.

Courtney in Chocolates for Breakfast, after first lover leaves her, deliberately cuts the skin at the joints of her fingers, an act which provides some relief from her sense of guilt and sadness, and lands her in a sanitarium. The suicide of her best friend Janet, later in the novel, can likewise be seen as having a similarly cathartic, even redemptive effect, chastising the grown-ups and reminding them of their responsibilities.


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Note from Sterling Lord to Pamela Moore April 1958

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Adam Kanarek reading Kultura magazine photograph by Pamela Moore

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V. Cioccolata a colazione

The Italian edition of Chocolates for Breakfast figured prominently in an obscenity trial that took place in Italy from 1960 through most of 1964.

The defendant was Alberto Mondadori, CEO of the largest publishing house in Italy. The two other books named in the the case were the translations his company had published of Jack Kerouack’s “Subterraneans” and D.H. Lawrence’s “Lady Chatterley’s Lover.”

Technically, the charge was violation of article 528 of the penal code, oltraggio al comune senso del pudore: crimes against common decency. This law allowed for exceptions in the case of works of art — meaning that, according to the logic of obscenity laws, if a work can be proven to be art, then it is not obscene.

Notable Italian writers of that era — such as Anna Banti, Richard Bacchelli, and possibly Giacomo Debenedetti — testified in defense of the artistic value of Cioccolata, citing the serious and tragic mood of the novel, and the fact that it was “without any doubt sincerely moral.” Another factor considered in the case was Moore’s recent suicide, “evidence of her problematic nature, of her being a serious writer.”

The trial might be seen as a kind of long drawn-out morality play, a witch hunt, a karmic or clerical or bureaucratic process from transgression to judgement and ultimate absolution. In October of 1964, the judges delivered a verdict of Not Guilty. Alberto Mondadori was acquitted.

After being banned for the duration of the trial, Cioccolata a colazione returned to bookstores throughout Italy at the end of 1964. Within 2 years, over 400,000 copies had been sold. The book remained a best seller in Italy through most of the 1960′s, and stayed in print there for over 40 years, longer than in any other country.

And until the summer of 2014, when Mondadori reissued the novel in a new translation of the US edition, the only version available in that country had been based on the heavily revised text of the French nouvelle édition.

It had been a gift, to her new lover, from a young woman very much in love.

 

VI. Posterity

Moore’s philosophy professor at Barnard, Joseph Gerard Brennan, included in his memoirs a reminiscence of his student, Pamela Moore:

She graduated from Rosemary Hall School (now gone coed with Choate), wore Brooks Brothers shirts, smoked Gauloises, and spoke somewhat theatrically in the accents of the privileged. Pamela had the art of successful self-dramatization, and with some right. At eighteen, she had published her first novel Chocolates For Breakfast, a chronicle of sad young love among the rich. Her heroine fights running battles with her divorced actress-mother, experiments with alcohol and wrist-cutting, has her pink Brooks Brothers shirt unbuttoned for the first time by a smooth Hollywood type. Chocolates hit the best-seller charts and was quickly reprinted in paperback and translated into eleven foreign languages.

Although Pamela majored in English rather than philosophy, she often came to our seminar room after class hours to listen to records from the departmental collection played on our high fidelity phonograph. The first time she appeared I was sitting alone in the deserted seminar room listening to a recording of a choral group singing a motet. It was Josquin Des Prez’ Misericordias Domini, one of those masterworks of Renaissance polyphony of unearthly beauty, the kind that lifts us up above the urgency and venom of the world and bestows a few moments of tranquility.

An authoritative voice at the door broke the silence that followed the last cadence: “Only once before in my life have I heard music of such purity.” I turned to see a smallish dark- haired student with a blue cigarette pack in her hand. “When was that?” “When I first heard the chorus of the Red Army!”She came nearer, stared at me a moment, then said, “Do you know that you have a very Irish head?”
– Joseph Gerard Brennan, “The Education of a Prejudiced Man,” 1977

For nearly forty years following her death in 1964, Pamela Moore was mentioned rarely in print, other than the inclusion of her novel in lists of early lesbian fiction: in a 1965 article entitled “Feminine Equivalents of Greek Love in Modern Fiction,” Marion Zimmer Bradley, who later wrote the best-selling Mists of Avalon, compares Chocolates for Breakfast favorably with several novels about the obsessive love of a young girl for an older woman. Bradley concludes:

“Courtney is taken up by a friendly, kindly teacher; but just as Courtney is coming out of her shell, the teacher realizes the nature of this attachment and rebuffs her. . . this rejection of her overwhelming need for love touches off the sexual promiscuity and dissipation which characterize Courtney’s later adolescent years.”

In her book Contingent Loves: Simone de Beauvoir and Sexuality, Melanie Hawthorne surveys French novels that feature an erotic bond between schoolgirls and older female teachers, and cites Chocolates for Breakfast among the English language counterparts to this genre.

Had the pages cut from the original manuscript left behind some kind of trace? These cuts may have been the result of censorship, self-censorship, mauvaise foi, or the editing process of paring a book down its most suggestive, essential form. In any event, the missing material might be sensed though not seen:

“If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water.”
– Ernest Hemingway, “Death in the Afternoon,” 1932

Or as if a face were cropped from a photograph in such a way that some might still perceive it to be there: a faint outline, a ghost image of original love and loss.


The Trial*

A passage from “Chocolates for Breakfast” that may have prompted the obscenity charge was this exchange between Courtney Farrell and Anthony Neville:

“I’ve been writing a story,” [Anthony] announced. “It’s about two Lesbians who are married by a homosexual priest –” He paused and looked at Courtney. “You’re Catholic, of course.” She nodded. “–by a homosexual priest in a terribly floral ceremony in Switzerland. Up to this point they have been living quite happily in sin, but now their idyll has been destroyed.One of the Lesbians develops a pathological jealousy of the priest.”

One of the three judges wrote in his decision:

” . . the book can not be considered immoral or pornographic. In as much as the author, displaying remarkable abilities as a writer, seeks to represent, and successfully, in very realistic terms, the mood of a generation of young people in a given country at a given moment in history and in certain social conditions.”

* Description of the trial and quotes from the transcripts courtesy Antonio Armano, author of Maledizioni: Processi, sequestri, censure a scrittori e editori in Italia dal dopoguerra a oggi, Nino Aragno Editore, 2013.

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Italian translation
18th edition,1966

 


Excerpts from the
nouvelle édition

Miss Rosen speaks:

“It’s true, Courtney. All my life, I’ve listened to that anthem. I sought my liberation in study, travel and reflection. . . this jargon poisons our souls. . . it taints our food. . . It is a sterilizing mist sprayed upon the forests of America.” … / … ”I’m going to tell you something, Courtney, that you may not understand right away. You’ll remember it in a few years, and maybe then you’ll understand it. You will discover that truth and love are inseparable. You cannot know one without the other. Love flourishes not in innocence, but in purity. You cannot create love without destroying the Myth.”

“You know this kind of love, then?”
“Yes, I do.”
“How did you find it?”
“I didn’t find it, I created it. I didn’t discover myself, I created myself. I did not ‘meet’ my destiny, I forged it for myself. You must understand this, in order to understand what I represent, and why my Love is linked to Truth.”

–Nouvelle Édition, pp. 29 – 33

Courtney to Anthony:

“We call “enchantment” our innocence, because magic keeps the garden of childhood from fading. But I’ve lost enchantment. You have given me something else much more precious, and you could never guess at what it is. A long time before I met you, someone told me that I’d learn some day what I’m telling you now. I would have never understood it, if you had not given me my childhood. She told me that love does not exist in innocence, but in growth, and that it is the third lover that brings purity . ”
“You have found this love?”
“No, I cannot find it. I must create it. I shall create it as I shape my destiny, and try to expose the Myth that destroyed Janet.”

–Nouvelle Édition, p. 265.

VII. The Original US typescript

In their published version, Rinehart cut roughly a dozen pages from the typescript that Pamela Moore had submitted in April of 1956, under her original title “Everything Happens in September.”

These deleted pages bear little resemblance to the revisions of the French nouvelle édition. The connection between Courtney and Miss Rosen is evoked as a kind of refrain throughout the novel: however it is described in sensual, not philosophic terms:

 Miss Rosen flinched. She got up and put her hand on Courtney’s shoulder. Courtney felt the touch through her whole body, and the sensation was an agreeable one. Often at night she thought about Miss Rosen touching her, and being with her all the time, not just for a few hours in the evening. She would like to have that warm feeling more of the time instead of the loneliness.
– TYPESCRIPT, p. 17

The Staff members began to get concerned about Courtney, and one afternoon in the staff parlor, where they could smoke, they talked about her.  Her marks have dropped almost 10 points this term.” said her class advisor, Mlle de Labry. . .
Miss Rosen was not there, so Mrs. Reese said,
“Do you suppose it has anything to do with Miss Rosen’s telling her not to see her anymore?”
“Possibly,” said her Medieval History professor who was a friend of Miss Rosen’s. “How did that come about anyway?”
“Well, if we may speak frankly, said Mrs. Reese, “the relationship that Farrell had with Miss Rosen was — well, unnatural. Not that Miss Rosen had anything to do with that,” she added hastily.
– TYPESCRIPT, p. 34

Courtney watching Barry, her first lover, as he sleeps:

She constructed his body beneath the blanket, lean and pale with an almost girlish grace. Then she felt almost embarassed, with the sensual self-consciousness that she had known at Scaisebrooke when Miss Rosen leaned over her.
– TYPESCRIPT, p. 55

The original typescript of Chocolates for Breakfast includes 3 pages at the end that were cut from the published version. After leaving Anthony, Courtney goes to meet Charles at Sardi’s. They drink a toast to enchantment. Then, trying to make sense of Janet’s death, Courtney says:

She sought out the sort of man who would help her destroy herself, and they looked for oblivion together. . . we can’t be helped by anyone else. We have to want to be saved.  That’s the beginning.
– TYPESCRIPT, p. 301

 

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