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Friday, July 27, 2012

Erotic Flaubert

The following text is from some notes made after a translation of 

Erotic Pages from Flaubert's 

*Voyage en Egypte*

 by Eric Mader-Lin

5) Flaubert lent his manuscript of this travel journal to Louise Colet, a married woman with whom he had recently broken off an affair of several years. Colet found the detail concerning the bedbugs repugnant. In a letter, Flaubert defended himself: "You tell me Kuchiouk Hanem's bedbugs degrade her in your eyes. As for me, it was just that that I found enchanting. Their sickening odor mingled with the perfume of her body dripping with sandalwood. I want there to be a bitterness in everything, an eternal slap in the face right in the midst of our triumphs, and even desolation itself accompanying our enthusiasm. This reminds me of Jaffa, where, in entering, I breathed in simultaneously the scent of the lemon trees and that of rotting cadavers: the torn-up cemetery allowed one to see skeletons with the flesh half rotted away, while at the same time the green bows of the trees balanced over our heads their golden fruits. Don't you sense how this poetry is complete, how it is the great synthesis?"

6) In the letter to Louise Colet quoted above, Flaubert writes: "I return to Kuchiouk. It is we who think of her, but she would hardly think of us. We are fabricating the aesthetic on her account, while at the same time that famous traveler, that interesting man who had the honors of her couch, he has completely departed from her memory, like so many others. Oh, how traveling makes one modest! One sees the tiny place one has in the world."

The erotic translations are available at

This site pointed out to me by Max Richards, poet and dog-walker. Thanks, Max.

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