Les Onze Mille Verges
Les Onze Mille Verges ou les Amours d'un hospodar is a pornographic novel by French author Guillaume Apollinaire, published in 1907 over his initials "G.A.". The title contains a play on the Catholic veneration of the "Eleven thousand Virgins" (French: les onze mille vierges), the martyred companions of Saint Ursula, replacing the word "virgins" with a vulgarism for the male member.
The novel tells the fictional story of Prince Vibescu Mony, in which Apollinaire explores all aspects of sexuality: sadism alternates with masochism; ondinism / scatophilia with vampirism; pedophilia with gerontophilia; masturbation with group sex; lesbianism with homosexuality. The writing is alert, fresh and concrete, humour is always present, and the entire novel exudes an "infernal joy"[attribution needed], which finds its apotheosis in the final scene.
The novel draws on the work of earlier erotic writers, including the Marquis De Sade, Rétif de la Bretonne, André Robert de Nerciat and Pietro Aretino. Admirers of Les Onze Mille Verges included Louis Aragon, Robert Desnos and Pablo Picasso, who dubbed the novel Apollinaire's masterpiece.
Case before the ECHR
In a case lodged before the European Court of Human Rights by a Turkish publisher of the novel, for his conviction under the Turkish Criminal Code "for publishing obscene or immoral material liable to arouse and exploit sexual desire among the population", followed by the seizure and destruction of all the copies of the book and the fine for the publisher, the Court found that there has been a violation of the Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, protecting the freedom of expression. The Court stated that the work belonged to the "European literary heritage".
In a different case judge Bonello, in his concurring opinion, after citing the description of the book from Wikipedia, described the work as a "smear of transcendental smut".
References and notes
- Scott Baker, "Apollinaire, Guillaume" in The Encyclopedia of Erotic Literature, Edited by Gaétan Brulotte and John Philips (pp. 33-40). London : Routledge, 2006, ISBN 978-1-57958-441-2
- Akdaş v. Turkey, no. 41056/04, February 16, 2010.
- Lautsi and Others v. Italy, no. 30814/06, March 18, 2011, Concurring opinion of judge Bonello, para. 4.1.
- Neil Cornwell, The absurd in literature, Manchester University Press, 2006, ISBN 0-7190-7410-X, pp. 86–87
- Patrick J. Kearney, A History of Erotic Literature, 1982, pp. 163–4
- Karín Lesnik-Oberstein, The last taboo: women and body hair, Manchester University Press, 2006, ISBN 0-7190-7500-9, p. 94
- Roger Shattuck, The banquet years: the arts in France, 1885-1918: Alfred Jarry, Henri Rousseau, Erik Satie, Guillaume Apollinaire, Doubleday, 1961, p. 268
- Lisa Z. Sigel, International exposure: perspectives on modern European pornography, 1800-2000, Rutgers University Press, 2005, ISBN 0-8135-3519-0, p. 132
- Chris Gates and Rob Murphy, Privates, 2010, a short film featuring selected readings http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGruZgm3vRo