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a Pavement Nymphs b and Roadside Flowers: a Prostitutes in Paris b

After the Revolution victoria dailey ‘C’est peut-être un goût pervers, mais j’aime la prostitution et pour elle-même, indépendamment de ce qu’il y a en dessous.’ (Flaubert)1

Some years ago I acquired a small, modest-looking French book published in 1826 that would become the source of my interest in women and prostitution in Paris, especially after the French Revolution. It was a 32mo bound in plain crimson boards, small enough to fit in one’s hand or pocket and titled Dictionnaire Anecdotique des Nymphes du Palais-Royal et autres Quartiers de Paris par un homme de bien.2 In 124 pages, the anonymous author lists scores of Parisian prostitutes alphabetically by their first names, from Adelaide to Zoe, and gives the streets where they could be found along with descriptions of their physical appearance and personalities, including:

Olympe, rue du Richelieu, who is beautiful, tall like a man, and is said to flirt with the lovers of her friends—and that her desires are not always satisfied by just one.

Véronique (La Blonde), rue Traversière, is far from pretty, but her blond hair, falling with grace over her beautiful pale skin, sets her apart.

1. All translations are by the author unless otherwise indicated. The illustrations are reproduced with thanks to Wild Don Lewis Photography. 2. The actual word for 32mo is trigesimo-secundo, indicating a book made from sheets of paper that folded to make signatures of thirty-two leaves; as such, 32mos are small, about 4 x 2 ¾ inches in size.


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