|Illustrations for Ermyntrude and Esmeralda
||[Jun. 1st, 2006|11:40 pm]
The Artwork of Romain de Tirtoff
Yesterday I read Lytton Strachey's Ermyntrude and Esmeralda, which was illustrated by Erte himself, did you know?!
The illustrations don't give the story away very much; but please forgive me if I spoil anything for anybody who hasn't yet read it because I can't help but excerpt some of the hilarious passages that the illustrations correspond to! It's a satire to do with society's views about sex dedicated by the libertine author to the man he was in love with. It's a set of correspondences between two entirely naive and silly seventeen year old girls conferring about the mystery of love, sex and childbirth, but it's only the blind leading the blind. I sensed in reading it that the author must have possessed a phobia and total distaste for girls (though it seems by the way Erte depicted them in his body of work he considered females brilliant.) The book wasn't originally intended for the public, Strachey wrote it to amuse his friends.
(left: Esmeralda in the country [notice the windows]; right: Ermyntrude, whose home is based on Lancaster Gate, Strachey's gloomy home of 25 years from childhood.)
At first, I wasn't sure if the illustrations were originally achromatic like they are printed in the edition I have, but now I think they probably were.
She shut me up when I was still miles off. Everyone always does-that is, everyone who knows. What can it mean. It is very odd. Why on earth should there be a secret about what happens when people have babies? I suppose it must be something appallingly shocking, but then, if it is, how can so many people bear to have them? Of course I'm quite sure it's got something to do with those absurd little things that men have in statues hanging between their legs, and that we haven't. And I'm also sure that it's got something to do with the thing between our legs that I always call my Pussy. I believethat may be its real name, because once when I was in Oxford looking at the races...I heard a quite common woman say to another "There, Sarah, doesn't that make your pussy pout?" And then I saw that one of the rowing men's trousers were all split and those things were showing between his legs...So now I call ours pussies and their bow-wows, and my theory is that people have children when their bow-wows and pussies pout at the same time.