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At the age of 19 in 1902, MacLane published her first book, The Story of Mary MacLane, which sold 100,000 copies in the first month and was popular with young girls, but pilloried by conservative critics and readers. MacLane scandalized people with her memoir and her two subsequent books. She was considered wild and uncontrolled, a reputation she nurtured, and was openly bisexual as well as a vocal feminist. Some critics have suggested that even by today's standards, MacLane's writing is raw, honest, unflinching, self-aware, sensual and extreme. She wrote openly about egoism and her own self-love, about sexual attraction and love for other women, and even about her desire to marry the Devil.
Cravan was known as a pugilist, a poet, a larger-than-life character, and an idol of the Dada and Surrealism movements. From 1911 to 1915 he published a critical magazine, Maintenant! (“Now!”) which appeared in five issues. It was gathered together and reprinted by Eric Losfeld in 1971 as J’étais Cigare in the dadaist collection Le Désordre. The magazine was designed to cause sensation: his rough vibrant poetry, and provocative, anarchistic lectures and public appearances (often degenerating into drunken brawls) also earned him the admiration of Marcel Duchamp, Francis Picabia, André Breton, and other young artists and intellectuals.