One of my favorite Paris Logue readers directed me to Arts & Letters Daily (thanks Mark) and in my search for essays on France, I fell upon this juicy morsel:
Alykhan Velshi’s essay for the New English Review, entitled:
The Cruelty of Eros: Sex Tips from the Marquise de Pompadour – he includes this Pompadour quote:
“It is the cruelty of eros that elevates it above mere pleasure and makes it sublime.”
Whew – the past biographies I’ve read on Madame de Pompadour must have skipped that quote. (One biography that you can’t miss reading if you’re interested in de Pompadour is Nancy Mitford’s Madame de Pompadour).
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I won’t give away the gist of Velshi’s essay – you’ll read it for
yourself, but I wish the Marquise was still around to either agree with the essayist – or vehemently disagree.
I agree with his opening statement wholeheartedly, de Pompadour gets short shrift in the history books (not to mention the guided tours of Versailles)- which is a pity because she certainly contributed to the arts and made Versailles a much more lively place than it would have been without her. Intelligence and wit that were so necessary to Pompadour’s survival in the complicated position of being Louis XV’s mistress were probably her greatest ‘tools of seduction’.
Velshi will have you think that her tools of seduction were much more complex and thrived on the insecurities of her royal ‘victim’. Although I get the feeling that this perspective falls just short of ‘demonizing the woman (and powerful women in general) there’s also no reason why Velshi couldn’t be absolutely right. Still it’s hard to think of seduction in the terms of starting off by making a person feel insecure – that’s something I never would have imagined. Sounds like good copy for Cosmo, but it seems to me like a new pair of red shoes and a friendly smile would be more than plenty to turn any royal’s eye.
Jimmy Choo ‘Farrah’
And speaking of Blood Red Shoes, did anyone catch Brighton UK-based Blood Red Shoes when they were in Paris at La Fleche d’Or? If not, here’s their video on YouTube: