I am not a person who saves unnecessary objects or hoards things. While purging stuff in my closet, I came across a little book which I had seen before but never opened. It has moved from house to house with us with no place to really land…not the office, not a guest bedroom drawer, not even my library (which is its next stop) but somehow made its way into my closet. It isn’t mine. It belongs to the pack rat collector in my home and I think his mother gave it to him.
It is only 64 pages with three of those for other titles by the same publisher. The book’s title: The Art of Kissing. Edited and published by E. Haldeman-Julius.
Emmanuel Haldeman-Julius was born July 30, 1889 and died July 31, 1951. He was a Jewish-American socialist writer, an atheist thinker, social reformer, and publisher. He is best remembered for creating a series of pamphlets known as “Little Blue Books”. Sales totaled into the hundreds of millions of copies.
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he was the son of David Julius, a bookbinder. His parents fled Odessa (then part of the Russian Empire) and emigrated to America to escape religious persecution. Both his paternal and maternal grandfathers had been rabbis but his own parents were indifferent to the Jewish faith.
As a boy, Emanuel read voraciously. Literature and pamphlets produced by the socialists were inexpensive; Julius read them and was convinced by their arguments. He joined the Socialist Party before World War I and was the party’s Senatorial candidate for the state of Kansas in 1932.
Working for various newspapers, Julius rose to particular prominence as an editor with the socialist newspaper, Appeal to Reason. It had a large national circulation but was on the decline. When he married his first wife, Marcet Haldeman (whose last name he adopted in hypenation), he purchased the Appeal to Reason’s printing operation in Girard, Kansas and began printing the 3.5” X 5” pocket books on cheap pulp paper (similar to that used in pulp magazines), stapled in paper cover. The covers were either yellow or red.
They were first called The Appeal’s Pocket Series and sold for 25 cents in 1919. After several name changes, they finally settled on Little Blue Books in 1923. The five cent price of the books remained for many years. Many titles of classic literature were changed becoming lurid in order to increase sales. For instance in the passion series, Don Juan: A Passion in the Desert; Sarah Bernhardt’s Philosophy of Love; The King Enjoys Himself (a Victor Hugo drama re-titled); The Happy Hypocrite; Illicit Love and Other Tales; Casanova and the Women He Loved; A Wife’s Confession and Other Stories, and more.
No wonder millions of copies per year were sold in the late 1920s.
The Art of Kissing, published in 1926, contains the following chapter contents:
Chapter 1 – The Origin of Kissing, Defining a Kiss, Roots of Kissing, The Two Kinds of Kissing.
Chapter 2 – The History of Lip Kissing, In Antiquity, The Spread of Kissing.
Chapter 3 – The Techniques of the Kiss, The First Kiss, The Sophisticated Kiss, a Girl’s Kiss.
Chapter 4 – Special Problems, Size of a Mouth, Kissing Relatives, Kissing Your Own Sex, The Kiss Complete.
Chapter 5 – Kissing Customs, The Religious Kiss, On Special Occasions, Kissing Games and Sports, Kissing Devices.
Chapter 6 – Celebrated Kisses, Kissing the Blarney Stone, The Poets on Kissing, The Octopus Kiss, The Kiss of Death, The Kiss and Love.
In any case, probably more than you need or want to know about kissing.
Do you remember your first kiss? I was in the fourth grade and finally got up the nerve to kiss Richard Mays, a sixth grader while several of us were in the neighborhood playing outside. With a quick peck on his cheek, I turned and ran away hoping to never have to see him again. That didn’t happen. Luckily he never mentioned it. And I didn’t land an octopus kiss – whatever that is – on him, I don’t think. But I imagine he was embarrassed all the same.