September 10, 2009

Les Diaboliques (The She-Devils) according to Féliciens Rops

Les Diaboliques (The She-Devils), collection of short-stories, was published for the first time in 1874. The stories full of sulfurous eroticism caused controversy. Barbey d'Aurevilly was prosecuted for "insulting public decency and morality, and complicity." He withdrew the book from sale and prosecutors seized the remaining copies. To avoid trial, Barbey d'Aurevilly asked the help of his political acquaintances. He obtained a dismissal but the seized copies have already been destroyed. It was not until 1882 that Barbey d'Aurevilly republished Les Diaboliques, at Alphonse Lemerre's edition, with a portrait by Paul Adolphe Rajon and nine compositions by Félicien Rops (Le Rideau cramoisi - Le Plus Bel Amour de Don Juan - Le Bonheur dans le crime - Le Dessous de cartes d'une partie de whist - A Un Dîner d'athées - La Vengeance d'une femme ; two etchings for the postface and an etching untitled representing a woman hugging a sphinx). The Belgian artist boldly captures the decadent dimension of Barbey d'Aurevilly's style.

This collaboration is one of the greatest testament to the Symbolist aesthetic of that time.
(to consult - in french : Myriam Watthee-Delmotte's study ).

Currently, la librairie Loliée offers:
  • ROPS (Félicien). Dix eaux-fortes pour illustrer les Diaboliques de J. Barbey d’Aurevilly. Paris, Alphonse Lemerre, s.d. [vers 1900], small portfolio of ten etchings, in leaves (193x137 mm), publisher's folder.