Samuel Pepys's purchase of L'École des filles, his pleasure derived from and the subsequent burning of it  

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Samuel Pepys's purchase of L'École des filles, his pleasure derived from and the subsequent burning of it

As noted in his diary, in 1668 Samuel Pepys picked up a copy of an early erotic novel L'École des filles. Having read it and pleasured himself, he threw the "idle roguish book" on the fire.

January 13th, 1668

Thence homeward by coach and stopped at Martin's, my bookseller, where I saw the French book which I did think to have had for my wife to translate, called "L'escholle des filles," but when I come to look in it, it is the most bawdy, lewd book that ever I saw, rather worse than "Putana errante," so that I was ashamed of reading in it, and so away home.[1]

February 8 1668

Thence away to the Strand, to my bookseller's, and there staid an hour, and bought the idle, rogueish book, "L'escholle des filles;" which I have bought in plain binding, avoiding the buying of it better bound, because I resolve, as soon as I have read it, to burn it, that it may not stand in the list of books, nor among them, to disgrace them if it should be found.[2]

February 9 1668

Up, and at my chamber all the morning and the office doing business, and also reading a little of "L'escholle des filles," which is a mighty lewd book, but yet not amiss for a sober man once to read over to inform himself in the villainy of the world. At noon home to dinner, where by appointment Mr. Pelting come and with him three friends, Wallington, that sings the good base, and one Rogers, and a gentleman, a young man, his name Tempest, who sings very well indeed, and understands anything in the world at first sight. After dinner we into our dining-room, and there to singing all the afternoon. (By the way, I must remember that Pegg Pen was brought to bed yesterday of a girl; and, among other things, if I have not already set it down, that hardly ever was remembered such a season for the smallpox as these last two months have been, people being seen all up and down the streets, newly come out after the smallpox.) But though they sang fine things, yet I must confess that I did take no pleasure in it, or very little, because I understood not the words, and with the rests that the words are set, there is no sense nor understanding in them though they be English, which makes me weary of singing in that manner, it being but a worse sort of instrumental musick. We sang until almost night, and drank mighty good store of wine, and then they parted, and I to my chamber, where I did read through "L'escholle des filles," a lewd book, but what do no wrong once to read for information sake (but it did hazer my prick para stand all the while, and una vez to décharger); and after I had done it I burned it, that it might not be among my books to my shame, and so at night to supper and to bed.[3]




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