The Indiscreet Jewels  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Les bijoux indiscrets (English title: The Indiscreet Jewels) was Denis Diderot's first novel, published anonymously in 1748. The story is a roman à clef which portrays Louis XV as the sultan Mangogul of the Congo and his wife Mirzoza (Pompadour). Mangogul is a bored king and to spice up his life he gets a magic ring from a the genie Cucufa. The ring makes women's genitals ("jewels") talk, which makes them indiscreet.

The tale's premise is based on the "Every Hole to Tell the Truth" motif also found in the fabliau Le Chevalier Qui Fist parler les Cons, of which Diderot must have known, since it had been published the previous year in Nocrion.

Characters include Zima, Cucufa, Mangogul.



Les Bijoux Indiscrets has been translated as The Indiscreet Toys and as the The Talking Jewels in 1965 for Ace Books.


Les Bijoux Indiscrets' is also the title of a colour lithograph by René Magritte[1] published in 1963.

Source text

Do you see this ring?

— Vous voyez bien cet anneau, dit-il au sultan ; mettez-le à votre doigt, mon fils. Toutes les femmes sur lesquelles vous en tournerez le chaton, raconteront leurs intrigues à voix haute, claire et intelligible : mais n’allez pas croire au moins que c’est par la bouche qu’elles parleront.

— Et par où donc, ventre-saint-gris ! s’écria Mangogul, parleront-elles donc ?

— Par la partie la plus franche qui soit en elles, et la mieux instruite des choses que vous désirez savoir, dit Cucufa, par leurs bijoux.

— Par leurs bijoux, reprit le sultan, en s’éclatant de rire : en voilà bien d’une autre. Des bijoux parlants ! cela est d’une extravagance inouïe.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Indiscreet Jewels" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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