L’École des filles – The School of Venus

Partly out of boredom, partly out of curiosity, and definitely while I was supposed to do a different kind of research, I have read L’Escole des Filles ou la Philosophie des dames. This scandalously naughty piece of work was written by an unknown person of French origin and first published in Paris in 1655 and caused quite the stir, figuratively and literally.

NSFW

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A Parisian printer agreed in spring 1655 to put the naughtiness on paper and 300 copies were printed thus, with Jean L’Ange and Michel Millot named as publishers. The manuscript was written, so they said, by L’Ange, who according to himself worked as equerry for the King. Millot, who paid the costs to three-quarters, stated he also worked for the King and is responsible for paying the Swiss Guards.
It did not take long until the public prosecutors got a copy into their hands and while Millot managed to flee, L’Ange was arrested, all remaining copies seized and destroyed. It was then reprinted in English in the 1680’s under the name The School Of Venus or The Ladies Delight and as Samuel Pepys tells us in his diary, he burned his copy of this “the idle, rogueish book” after “reluctantly” reading it.

If you were a 17th Century parent you would definitely not want your daughter to have a glance at it, for L’Escole des Filles is basically an instruction manual on how to bang.

This lewd and scandalous book circles around the conversations of two cousins, one being rather naive and innocent, the other quite the opposite, in which the first is lured into performing the most pleasurous of pleasures by the latter, the act of fucking, as they call it. Innocent Katherine receives a step by step instruction by her slightly bawdy cousin Frances in the first part of the book, starting with how to name things, how to kiss, where to touch when one has an itch that leaves one unable to sleep at night, to talk of different positions and mechanics of erections, friends with benefits and personal preferences. Katherine is rather eager to experience the act herself and does so thus as a friend, Roger, happens to pay her a visit.

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In the second part of the book, she then tells her cousin all about how she lost her maidenhead and the various positions Roger had put her in the achieve the goal, as well as of the various places and positions they had done it in since and how she finds herself unable not to think of Roger’s “stiffle standing tarse” aka his glorious manhood. The two continue to discuss Roger’s abilities, repeat what Katherine had learned so far, talk of dildos and dirty talk, and close with a lesson on how to prevent pregnancies and how to keep one’s face in public, how a woman should act when pursued by a man and a nice and raunchy account on what is considered beautiful for both genders.

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It is certainly still a bawdy read, although some parts do sound more hilarious than shocking now, and if you fancy a read yourself, you can find the English version of 1680 here. Amusez-vous.

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