The Glories of the Fin de Siècle

The premature death of Morny [the half-brother and right-hand man of Napoleon the Third] has been attributed by some to his habit, common among fashionable Parisians, of taking not only “blue pills” (mercury with glycerin and honey of rose, widely used in the 19th century both as an anti-depressant and as a purgative) but also arsenic, reputed to be a youth preserver.”

Virginia Rounding,Grandes Horizontales, Bloomsbury, 2003, pp.211-213

Judith Gautier had complimented Pierre Loti on the rare proportion — only to be found in Greek statues — of the second toe to in relation to the big one; according to the canon, it should be considerable longer. By wearing sandals on his bare feet, Loti had succeeded in emphasizing that detail, of which he was, in fact, very proud.

Joanna Richardson, Judith Gautier, Quartet, 1986, p. 152.

Catulle Mendės never talked to me about Judith, except when one summer day when a big fly was buzzing between the curtain and the window panes. “Judith was very clever at swatting flies”, he murmured, “they used to say that that was connected with Satanism. The demoniacs called Beelzebub Lord of the Flies”.

Richardson, p. 167.

Suzanne Meyer-Zundel was intellectually lazy, she had small interest in books, and she could not write acceptable French. Her only gift appears to have been the unusual gift of modeling flowers out of breadcrumbs, an occupation at which she showed an unchallenged skill.

Richardson, pp. 185-186.

Published in: on February 8, 2014 at 10:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

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