2.1 Diderot and female loyalty

Wednesday, 5. August 2009

The first novel that Diderot wrote, in 1748, was about the empire of the bored sultan Mangogul. In the beginning of the story there is a good genie, Cucufa, who discovers at the bottom of his pocket, in the midst of worthless things — consecrated seeds, little pagodas made of lead, and moldy sugar-coated pills — a tiny silver ring. When you turn the stone of this ring towards the place where the legs of a woman meet, their sex will speak. The person who is wearing the ring becomes invisible, a pleasant condition  in such a situation. The spirit gives the ring to the curious sultan. Soon he starts his experiments among the women in his harem during a teaparty.

No matter the reputation of the woman the invisible sultan chooses, clean, pristine or decent, when he turns his ring towards their belly, their sex starts talking. And they talk about sex. They speak about the frustrations, desire, pleasure, cheating, adultery and with whom, and all kinds of other forbidden adventures. The sultan is all ears, and he is not the only one…

The main interest of the sultan is whether women in general are faithful. His research shows him that there’s no woman who can be trusted. At the end he turns to Mirzoza, his favourite courtesan… Diderot’s story keeps silent about this outcome, that’s up to the reader.  

Diderot’s “Indiscreet Jewels” has probably been inspired by “Le chevalier Qui Fist parler les Cons” (English title: “The Knight Who Made Cunts and Assholes Speak” , a ribald fable by Garin.


So, isn’t it a fascinating fantasy, to think of the stories that both sexes could tell each other in complete honesty…

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