Pierre Louÿs’ Dialogues, short for Douze douzains de dialogues, ou petites scènes amoureuses (Twelve Dozen Dialogues: Little Love Scenes) is a series of ninety short erotic texts (the 144 of the title originally planned were never completed) written between 1894 and 1899, and published for the first time after the death of the writer in 1927 by the bookseller Robert Télin, with illustrations by André Collot. The literary form was inspired by the Dialogue of Courtesans by Lucien de Samosate, a text for which Louÿs had great admiration. A sample from the text is given below, in French and English.

Pages from Louÿs’ original manuscript

Louÿs’ original manuscript includes a number of illustrations by an unknown artist; after the 1928 Collot-illustrated edition, a surprisingly long time afterwards given the popularity of Louÿs’ texts, Berque was commissioned to create illustrations for this new edition. A small edition with the Collot illustrations was published by Cythere in 1950, and a comic strip version illustrated by Jacobsen in 2002.

Jean Berque’s line drawings with minimal shading are simple, almost naive, but they match well the directness of Louÿs’s text.

Dialogue des filles nues

Entre ma chérie. Défais-toi.
Toi aussi.
Moi, je n’ai que mon peignoir à enlever, tiens, je suis à poil dessous. Le voilà par terre.
Oh, ton cher petit con, laisse que je le caresse.
Défais-toi d’abord. Ton boléro … ton jupon … ton corset. Amours de nichons, va.
Ils bandent pour toi, tu vois.
Les petits salauds! Continue. Ôte ton pantalon. Ôte ta chemise. Tes souliers, tes bas.
À poil toutes les deux, mon chat!
Je ne veux pas que tu me fasses de visites autrement. Assieds-toi devant moi, nous allons causer.
Regarde là.
Tiens, tu te mets du henné sous le ventre?
Oui, mon chéri, c’est plus joli.
Cela va bien sur le rose des lèvres.
Si je te disais autre chose, tu serais bien plus étonnée …
Oh! l’amour, elle se met du rouge au trou du cul ! Chéri adoré ! Que je t’embrasse dessus!

Dialogue of the Naked Girls

Come in my darling. Disrobe yourself.
You too.
Me, I only have my robe to take off; there, I’m naked. Here it is on the ground.
Oh, your dear little covering, let me stroke it.
Now get rid of it. Your dress ... your petticoat ... your corset. Lovely breasts, let us see them!
Your clothes bandage you, you see,
The little bastards! Keep going. Take off your pants. Take off your shirt. Your shoes, your stockings.
Now you are both naked, my darlings!
I don’t want you to visit me otherwise. Sit in front of me, let’s talk.
Look at her,
Here, are you putting henna under your belly?
Yes, darling, it’s prettier that way.
It goes well with the pink of your lips.
Shall I suggest something else, you might be even more surprised ...
Oh! love, she’s put rouge on her asshole! Darling, how adorable! Let me kiss you there!

The Berque-illustrated edition of Dialogues was published by Éditions Sous la Manteau in a limited numbered edition of 153 copies.

We are grateful to Steve Mullins of the Olympia Press website (www.parisolympiapress.com) for these illustrations.