Monsieur Vénus: A Materialist Novel

  • Author: Rachilde
  • Editors: Melanie Hawthorne, Liz Constable
  • Translator: Melanie Hawthorne
  • Pages: xliii & 211 pp.
  • Published: 2004
  • ISBN: 9780873529303 (Paperback)

“The novel may still outrage some readers, but it has become a key text for students of fin de siècle literature, women writers, and gender studies.”

—English Showalter

When the rich and well-connected Raoule de Vénérande becomes enamored of Jacques Silvert, a poor young man who makes artificial flowers for a living, she turns him into her mistress and eventually into her wife. Raoule’s suitor, a cigar-smoking former hussar officer, becomes an accomplice in the complications that ensue.

A writer and cultural arbiter of a salon in France from the early 1880s until 1930, Rachilde (Marguerite Eymery) won celebrity with this scandalously decadent novel. An inversion of the Pygmalion story, the book was judged to be pornographic, and a Belgian court sentenced its author (in absentia) to two years in prison. Verlaine congratulated Rachilde on the invention of a new vice.