From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
- world erotica, French popular culture, French striptease, libertine novel, French exploitation, French erotic literature, L'enfer, prostitution in France
No nation has enjoyed a greater reputation for producing and tolerating erotica --from the 17th century libertine novels to the "whore dialogues", from the Pads edition of Joyce's Ulysses to And God Created Woman-- than France. Philosophe Denis Diderot penned an 18th-century novel featuring talking body parts, while poet Guillaume Apollinaire spiced up one of his short works with fetishism. And then there's Gay Paree, Marquis de Sade and Brigitte Bardot.
Letters of Heloise and Abelard
The Letters of Heloise and Abelard is a series of letters between French priest Peter Abelard and his female student Héloïse after their separation and his castration. These letters were also the inspiration for Alexander Pope's poem "Eloisa to Abelard".
These letters are only known by posthumous copies which makes it impossible to ascertain their authenticity, no original copies of these letters exist. Yet even if other authors have been attributed to the letters, the name of Jean de Meung has cropped up, the letters' authenticity remain the most probable thesis.
Eloisa to Abelard is a poem by Alexander Pope (1688–1744) inspired by the 12th-century story of Héloïse's illicit love for, and secret marriage to, her teacher Pierre Abélard, perhaps the most popular teacher and philosopher in Paris, and the brutal vengeance her family exacts when they castrate him, not realizing that the lovers had married.
Les Cent Nouvelles nouvelles
The Cent Nouvelles nouvelles is an anonymous collection of nouvelles supposed to be narrated by various persons at the court of Philippe le Bon, and collected by Antoine de la Sale in 1456-1457. The work borrowed from Boccaccio's Decameron (1350-1353) and has in fact been subtitled the French Decameron.
The nouvelle as genre is considered the first example of literary prose in French, the first text in this category is generally cited as Les Cent Nouvelles nouvelles.
François Villon (ca. 1431 - after 5 January 1463) was a French poet, thief, and vagabond. He is perhaps best known for his Testaments and his Ballade des Pendus, written while in prison. The question "Mais où sont les neiges d'antan?", taken from the Ballade des Dames du Temps Jadis and translated by Dante Gabriel Rossetti as "Where are the snows of yesteryear?", is one of the most famous lines of translated secular poetry in the English-speaking world.
The Heptameron is a collection of 72 short stories written in French by Marguerite of Navarre (1492-1549). It has the form of a frame narrative and was inspired by the Decameron of Giovanni Boccaccio. It was originally intended to contain one hundred stories covering ten days just as the Decameron does but at Marguerite’s death it was only completed as far as the second story of the eighth day. Many of the stories deal with love, lust, infidelity and other matters romantic and sexual.
Gargantua and Pantagruel
In Gargantua and Pantagruel Rabelais occasionally speaks explicitly in describing both emetic and erotic subjects, but such references are always humorous.
Gargantua and Pantagruel is a connected series of five novels written in the 16th century by François Rabelais. It is the story of two giants, a father (Gargantua) and his son (Pantagruel) and their adventures, written in an amusing, extravagant, satirical vein. There is much crudity and scatological humor as well as a large amount of violence. Long lists of vulgar insults fill several chapters.
- French literature of the 17th century, French literature, 17th century French art, 17th century erotica
Also of note is the Loudun affair.
Les Vies des Dames galantes
- Les Vies des Dames galantes (1665-1666)
Brantôme's posthumously published mémoirs are biographical sketches of the "gallant" men and women of the European courts. Its best known volume is Les Vies des Dames Galantes which was quoted by Freud in The Psychopathology of Everyday Life and illustrated by Paul-Emile Bécat.
Académie des dames ou le meursius francais
Académie des dames ou le meursius francais is an early work of erotic fiction written by Nicolas Chorier, first published in Latin in c.1659 as Aloisiae Sigaeae, Toletanae, Satyra sotadica de arcanis amoris et Veneris.
The book is written in the form of a series of dialogues with Tullia, a twenty-six year-old Italian woman, the wife of Callias, who is charged with the sexual initiation of her young cousin, Ottavia, to whom she declares, "You mother asked to reveal to you the most mysterious secrets of bridal bed and to teach you what you must be with your husband, which your husband will also be, touching these small things which so strongly inflame men's passion. This night, so that I can indoctrinate you in all of this liberated language, will sleep together in my bed, which I would like to be able to say will have been the softest of Venus's lace."
L'École des filles
L’Escole des Filles ou la Philosophie des dames (a so-called whore dialogue) is an erotic work of fiction first described by Samuel Pepys in his famous diary. It was first published anonymously in Paris in 1655 by an. The presumed authors are Michel Millot and/or Jean L'Ange [or de Lange].
Originally published in 1655, this French text has also been translated as 'The School for Venus,' and despite its initial title (École des filles), should not be confused with The School for Girls (L'École des biches).
Letters of a Portuguese Nun
- Letters of a Portuguese Nun (1669)
The Letters of a Portuguese Nun (Fr. Les Lettres portugaises), first published anonymously by Claude Barbin in Paris in 1669, are a work believed by most scholars to be epistolary fiction (comprising five love letters) written by Gabriel-Joseph de La Vergne, comte de Guilleragues (1628–1685).
The passionate letters were a European publishing sensation (in part because of their presumed authenticity) and set a precedent for sentimentalism and for the literary genres of the sentimental novel and the epistolary novel into the 18th century. A 2006 book written by Myriam Cyr argues that the letters are in fact authentic.
Vénus dans le Cloître
- Vénus dans le Cloître (1683)
In 1724, Edmund Curll published the "pornographic" title that argued that it is the church, and not Christ, that forbids sexual exploration. In 1727 he was convicted under the common law offence of disturbing the peace for its publication. It appears to be the first conviction for obscenity in the United Kingdom, and set a legal precedent for other convictions.
The format of the book is an example of a whore dialogue. In a series of five dramatic conversations between two fictional nuns (sister Agnès and sister Angélique) are related. In these conversations, the elder more experienced woman instructs the younger about sex.
18th century France saw a veritable barrage of imagery and writings now considered erotic or pornographic, ranging from Les liaisons dangereuses to Sade's carnography. The terms pornography and erotica were not yet attested in the English language, but French writer Restif de la Bretonne had already used the term pornography in his 1769 work Le Pornographe.
- 19th century French erotica, French can-can, Moulin Rouge, 19th century Paris, 19th century French literature, modern art
This section is under construction at 19th century French erotica.
The 20th century saw new technologies such as photography and cinema, which led to erotic photography and erotic films. Surrealism was one of the most remarkable developments as artistic movement in the 20th century, its penchant for eroticism was in evidence in surrealist literature and surrealist art. See Sade/Surreal and Sade's influence on Surrealism. See also the erotic photography of Man Ray and the paintings of Salvador Dali, and the work of André Masson and of Hans Bellmer.
Obscenity censorship in France
July 16, 1949: French law targets "publications destinées à la jeunesse," [publications intended for the youth]. Initially, the law applied to magazines and periodicals of a semi-salacious nature, usually well illustrated. In 1954 the law was expanded to include printed books as well.
- List of French erotomaniacs
- J.M. Lo Duca
- Ado Kyrou
- Gilles Néret
- Images Interdites (1989) - Yves Frémion, Bernard Joubert
- History of censorship in France in cinema, newpapers, magazines, posters and books.
- Paris Eros: The Imaginary Museum of Eroticism in Paris (2004) - Hans-Jürgen Döpp
- French Undressing - Naughty Postcards from 1900 to 1920