Monsieur Nicolas  

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"from Rétif de la Bretonne's Monsieur Nicolas, where the protagonist, after reading a few pornographic works, suddenly finds himself hungering for sex"--Jean Marie Goulemot


"On January 2 1798 Schiller wrote to Goethe about Le Coeur humain dêvoilé and said that this work had ‘einen unschätzbaren Werth’ because of ‘das Leben und die Gegenwart der Beschreibung, das Characterische der Sitten und die Darstellung des französischen Wesens in einer gewissen Volksklasse.’"--Sholem Stein


"We owe to Restif de la Bretonne what is perhaps the earliest precise description of a woman masturbating. In 1755 he knew a dark young woman, plain but well-made, and of warm temperament, educated in a convent. She was observed one day, when gazing from her window at a young man in whom she was tenderly interested, to become much excited. "Her movements became agitated; I approached her, and really believe that she was uttering affectionate expressions; she had become red. Then she sighed deeply, and became motionless, stretching out her legs, which she stiffened, as if she felt pain." It is further hinted that her hands took part in this manoeuvre (Monsieur Nicolas, vol. vi, p. 143)."--Studies in the Psychology of Sex, Volume 1 (1897) by Havelock Ellis:

"Je suis entré chez Rose; j'ai pénétré jusqu'à sa chambre. Elle était à sa fenêtre; elle te regardait. Elle parlait seule; elle s'agitait, s'agitait... Je me suis approché tout prés d'elle, et je crois en vérité qu'elle te disait des douceurs!.., Elle était rouge d'abord... Enfin, elle a fait un grand soupir!... et elle est restée comme immobile, allongeant seulement les jambes, qu'elle roidissait, comme si elle se fût trouvée mal."--Monsieur Nicolas, vol. vi, p. 143

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Monsieur Nicolas, ou Le Cœur humain dévoilé (16 vols., 1794-1797) is an autobiographical work by Nicolas Edme Restif de La Bretonne, in which at the age of sixty he has set down his remembrances, his notions on ethical and social points, his hatreds, and above all his numerous loves, both real and fancied. In it, Rétif relates the beginnings of his sexual awakenings between 1738 and 1744, when he remembers experiencing the most pleasurable of sexual stimulations in very early childhood. However, the last two volumes are practically a separate and much less interesting work in the opinion of the redactors of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.

Monsieur Nicolas has aroused the interest of readers such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich von Schiller and Gerard de Nerval. The last appropriated the name Monsieur Nicolas in his collection of novellas Les Illuminés.

On January 2 1798 Schiller wrote to Goethe about Le Coeur humain dêvoilé and said that this work had ‘einen unschätzbaren Werth’ because of ‘das Leben und die Gegenwart der Beschreibung, das Characterische der Sitten und die Darstellung des französischen Wesens in einer gewissen Volksklasse.’





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