Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"Monsieur Vénus", Rachilde, 1884

In the Vénérande Mansion, in the left wing, whose shutters are always closed, there is a walled chamber.

That room is as blue as a cloudless sky, and on the bed shaped like a shell, an Eros of marble watches over a wax figure covered with transparent rubber. The red hair, the fair eyelashes, the gold hair of the chest are natural; the teeth that are in the mouth, and the nails on the hands and feet, have been torn from a corpse. The enameled eyes have an adorable look.

The walled chamber has a door hidden in the draperies of the dressing room. At night, sometimes a woman dressed in mourning, and sometimes a young man in evening clothes, opens this door.

One or the other kneels at the foot of the bed, and, after contemplating at length the marvelous lines of the wax statue, embraces it, and kisses it on its mouth. A hidden spring, installed at the inside of the hips, connects with the mouth and brings it to life.

This wax figure, an anatomical masterpiece, was fabricated by a German.

--Monsieur Vénus, Rachilde, 1884
So ends the lurid Monsieur Vénus, published by Rachilde in 1884, via a translation featured in Zone Books' The Decadent Reader: Fiction, Fantasy, and Perversion from Fin-de-Siècle France; Click here to find out more.

Image from cover of the wonderful book Flesh and Wax: Clemente Susini's Anatomical Wax in Cagliari University. Click here for more about this book. Click on image to see much larger and lovelier version.


Mike Arnzen - The Popular Uncanny said...

Great pairing of art and fiction here! The Decadent Reader is an amazing book.

I would like to see more wax figures, particularly any images of long abandoned or decayed ones. These objects are quite uncanny.

bioephemera said...

Wow - that's a wonderful photo. Very Georgie O'Keefe-meets-Susini!