Cydalise, ou le péche dans le miroir (Cydalise, or Fishing in the Mirror) is a sequence of thirty explicitly erotic short poems by Pierre Louÿs, found in his manuscripts after his death. The collection is named after the first of the verses. The first time they appeared in print was in 1930, with eight engravings by the mysterious T. Mertens (which you can see here); when Traynier was commissioned by ‘Les amis de l'écrivain’ (‘The writer’s friends’) to produce a new set of illustrations for Cydalise he became the only other illustrator ever to rise to the task.

And did he rise! Jean Traynier’s response to Louÿs’ no-holds-barred text is a series of lively orgy scenes, full of naked bodies writhing in shared passion. Apart from two unsigned prints attributed to Traynier, shown below, it seems he never produced anything else quite so uninhibited; though he was clearly a talented illustrator in much demand the rest of his output was far more restrained.

Here is the title poem from the collection to provide a flavour:


‘Cydalise, êtes-vous malade?
— Ah! mon cher, ne m’en parlez pas!
La fouterie et l’enculade
En une nuit m’ont mise à bas.’

Two prints attributed to Jean Traynier, c.1950

‘Sous promesse de fortes sommes,
J’ai bien voulu faire l’amour
Toute nue avec vingt-quatre hommes
Qui se relayaient tour à tour.

Du soir jusqu’à l’aube première
J’ai tiré quatre-vingt-six coups
Dont trente et un dans le derrière
Et j’ai bien mal à mes deux trous.

J'ai déchargé pendant quatre heures,
A la fin je n’en pouvais plus,
Les joyeusetés les meilleures
N’ont-elles pas leurs superflus?’


‘Cydalise, are you unwell?
– Ah! my dear, don't tell me!
The fucking and the sodomy
Have finally got to you.’

‘With the promise of large sums,
I was willing to make love
Naked with twenty-four men
Who each took their turn.

From evening until dawn
I was taken eighty-six times,
Including thirty-one in the arse.
Now both holes hurt a lot.

I discharged for four hours,
In the end I couldn’t take it any more,
Even the best treats
Have their disadvantages.’

The Traynier-illustrated version of Cydalise was published in a boxed numbered edition of 200 copies.