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The Indiscreet Jewels (1748) - Denis Diderot

Related: 1700s - early erotica - libertine novel - erotic fiction - 1748 - bawdy - ribaldry - Denis Diderot

Derivatives (visual arts): Les Bijoux Indiscrets (1963) - René Magritte

Derivatives (cinema): Pussy Talk (1975) - Claude Mulot

The Indiscreet Jewels (1748) - Denis Diderot [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

"You see this ring." he said to the sultan. "Put it on your finger my son. When you turn the setting of the stone, on the women on whom you turn it will recount their affairs in a loud and clear voice. But do not believe for a moment that it is through their mouths that they speak."

"Through what else then, by God, will they speak?" exclaimed the sultan.

"Trough that part which is the most frank in them, and the most knowledgeable about the things you wish to know." said Cucufa; "through their jewels." --Denis Diderot, translation by Linda Williams quoted in Hard Core (1989)


Les bijoux indiscrets (English title: The Indiscreet Jewels) was Denis Diderot's first novel, published anonymously in 1748.

It is an allegory that portrays Louis XV as the sultan Mangogul of the Congo who owns a magic ring that makes women's genitals ("jewels") talk.

A comparable trope that Diderot must have known is found in the ribald fabliau Le Chevalier Qui Fist parler les Cons. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_bijoux_indiscrets [Sept 2005]

Tip of the hat to Wetman.

From Library Journal
Diderot's erotic, subversive first novel, published anonymously in 1748, was a hit at the time, and no wonder: it is an allegory that portrays the king of France, Louis XV, as the sultan Mangogul of the Congo for whose amusement a magic ring is procured that makes women's genitals ("jewels") talk. The sultan's high-principled favorite, Mirzoza (Mme. de Pompadour), disapproves of his prurient curiosity; she foresees, correctly, that the indiscretion of the seraglio's "jewels" will wreck marriages and upset institutions. Clearly, Diderot's tale is more than a romp, as Adam Vartanian's long-winded introduction to this edition belabors; it is a novel of ideas in which "jewels" function as the vehicle of philosophy to enlighten society. Diderot managed his delicate high-wire act between adulation and satire so well that he wasn't thrown in jail until years later. With this new translation--serviceable but at times snagged in anachronisms-- Les bijoux indiscrets begs fresh consideration for curriculums and libraries. - Amy Boaz, "Library Journal" Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. via Amazon.com

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