185 Love Letters in French
sent from 185 women to a Parisian, offering an unmediated view of female desire in turn-of-the-millennium France. Ten of the letters are typed; 175 are handwritten.
In the summer of 2000
a handsome 36-year-old single Parisian posed (clothed) for a full-page photograph in a popular, large-circulation French woman’s magazine. Readers desiring a romantic relationship were invited to read an interview with the man and write him, care of the magazine, with details of their lives and romantic aspirations. 185 single women replied. Each letter was a manifestation, often powerful, of female desire. The bachelor, overwhelmed, decided to not meet a single woman.
Many manuscripts contain poems
drawings and photographs. Some of the sheets of paper, parchments and envelopes have been sprayed with perfume, painted with watercolors. One envelope contains a stick of still-fragrant incense. The collection includes a large selection of stamps affixed to envelopes for replies. (The buyer will receive the part of the self-addressed stamped envelope with the stamp or France’s La Poste sticker, but not the part containing the writer’s name and address.) The letters were written in France, save a dozen or so penned in Belgium, Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, Germany, Latvia, Spain and Switzerland. The letters embody France’s strong epistolary tradition, which greatly values detailed expressions of sentiments, romantic recollections and beautiful penmanship. (Only 10 of the letters are typewritten; one is partially typed.)
Few men have read
letters from 185 women
Each wrote to a man introduced with just a single photograph and short interview, so the letters reveal their authors far more than the addressee. Written to an abstraction, they apply to an archetype of man—and therefore all men. The reader’s sensation is that he is the addressee.
The letters offer
an unmediated view of fair-sex
sentiments in turn-of-the-millennium France. Taken together, the collection provides insights—unfiltered by academics and sociologists—into French women’s emotional prerequisites for sex. (Careful reading is not always necessary; a large number of letters were written with disarming directness.) Many women offer confessions and interpret their dreams, both literal and figurative. The thrill of kissing, at times deftly described, is another recurring theme. Almost all write, some lucidly, of previous loves and exhilarations. Letters summon song lyrics, dialog from movies, and quotations from literature and poetry. A wide variety of candlelight-and-wine dinners are proposed. A few women reveal their body measurements.
the writing styles
are variations of come-hither prose, at times perhaps coy. One young woman writes: “Le plus beau cadeau que j’ai pu offrir est mon corp [sic] mon âme oui m’offrir à un homme est le plus beau cadeau je crois.” (« The most beautiful gift I can give is my body, my soul, yes, I believe that giving myself to a man is the most beautiful gift. ») Another writes of her “charmant accent du Midi” (« charming Midi [southern-France] accent. »). Another explains that her favorite way to lift her spirits when feeling blue is to “faire l’amour” (« make love »). Another promises her “premier cadeau” (« first gift »): A “massage très long et très doux” (« a long and tender massage »).
To ensure privacy
all family names will be redacted with a black marker, along with addresses, contact details and other identifying information. (First names will only be redacted if they are unusually distinctive.) Photographs will be removed, unless faces cannot be made out.
are sold as a single lot
The lot is sold with the agreement that no letter in its entirety may be published (electronically or otherwise). The buyer must return a signed legal agreement before the box will be shipped. Excerpts of the letters may be used for art projects, scholarly works, press articles, poetry, scripts, screenplays, novels and non-fiction writings. Publishers or authors interested in publishing the letters (or a selection of the letters) in their entirety should contact the seller to discuss a special arrangement. The buyer is encouraged to use the letters for the teaching of French, French culture, psychoanalysis, psychology, gender studies, penmanship or other subjects. As time passes, the letters will provide an increasingly rare and poignant portrait of turn-of-the-millennium France and its women.
may review the letters for free and without obligation in Paris (contact the seller to discuss other possible arrangements for pre-sale review of the letters). Sales are final.