October 26, 2003

Books that make me pee, Part I

Had two super book finds at Half Price Books in Berkeley today!

Finally found a copy of "Gamiani, or Two Nights of Excess" by Alfred de Musset in English translation. I've been dying to read it since I saw the illustrations from an 1830's edition in Erotica Universalis. I got this 1968 paperback edition for $.48. Here's a blurb from the inside flap:
"Two Voluptuous nights by a party of three..."

That was how Gamiani was described when it first appeared in 1833, Until an 1864 edition revealed otherwise, the book was widely believed to be fiction; but then it was labeled a true journal of pleasure, with its three main characters thinly disguised as models of real people.

The man called "Alcide" in the book was unmasked as Gamiani's author, the famous classicist Alfred de Musset. The course sensuality and lewd appetites of "Alcide" were described as archtypical of the celebrated French poet.

Gamiani's "Countess de C." was shown to be Alfred de Musset's sometime mistress--the Comtesse Morton de Chabrillon--whose ravaging nymphomania had shocked even the corrupt voluptuaries of 19th-century France.

And "Fanny B."--portrayed in Gamiani as a virgin whose seduction elevated both her mistress and master--was, in actuality, the famed female poet who wrote under the masculine name of George Sand.

Gamiani thus became one of the most important documents of its time. With its clever mixture of fact and fiction, it gave--and continues to give--true insight of literary France before the 20th century.

Posted by Kallisti at October 26, 2003 09:35 PM