The Indiscreet Jewels

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The Indiscreet Jewels
AuthorDenis Diderot
Original titleLes bijoux indiscrets
Publication date

The Indiscreet Jewels (or The Indiscreet Toys, or The Talking Jewels; French: Les bijoux indiscrets) is the first novel by Denis Diderot, published anonymously in 1748. It is an allegory that portrays Louis XV as the sultan Mangogul of the Congo who owns a magic ring that makes women's genitals ("jewels") talk. The character of Mirzoza is a parable of Madame de Pompadour.[1] Diderot portrayed Pompadour in a flattering light in The Indiscreet Jewels, most likely to ensure her support for his Encyclopedie.[2]

Plot summary[edit]

Sultan Mangogul of Congo is bored of court life and suspects his mistress Mirzoza of infidelity. Happily for him, a genie presents him with a magical ring with unique properties. When the ring is rubbed and pointed at the genitals of any woman in the vicinity, the genitals ("discreet jewels") begin speaking of their past amorous experiences to the confusion and consternation of their owner.[3][4][note 1] In the book, the Sultan uses the ring in this manner about thirty times—usually at a dinner or a social meeting; on these occasions, the Sultan is typically visible to the woman.[5][6] However, since the ring has the additional property of making its owner invisible when required, a few of the sexual experiences recounted are through direct observation with the Sultan making himself invisible and placing his person in the unsuspecting woman's boudoir.[5]


  1. ^ Bijou is a slang word meaning the vagina.[4]

English Translations[edit]

  • From Their Lips to His Ear. Pocket Erotica Series #6 (New Urge Editions/Black Scat Books, ISBN 978-1735615912, 2020)


  1. ^ Mystifying the monarch : studies on discourse, power, and history. Deploige, Jeroen., Deneckere, Gita, 1964-. [Amsterdam]: Amsterdam University Press. 2006. ISBN 9789053567678. OCLC 85838955.CS1 maint: others (link)
  2. ^ de La Harpe, Jean François. Lycée, ou Cours de littérature ancienne et moderne: Tome 2. Paris: Et. Ledoux et Tenré. p. 371.
  3. ^ Otis Fellows (1977). Diderot. Alfred A. Knopf. p. 44.
  4. ^ a b P.N. Furbank (1992). Diderot:A Critical Biography. Twayne. p. 44.
  5. ^ a b Suzanne Rodin Pucci (1990). The Discreet Charms of the Exotic: Fictions of the harem in eighteenth-century France in Exoticism in the Enlightenment (ed. George Sebastian Rousseau and Roy Porter). Manchester University Press. p. 156.
  6. ^ Will Durant (1965). The Story of Civilization Volume 9:The Age of Voltaire. Simon&Schuster. p. 627.