Memoirs of a Courtesan in Nineteenth-Century Paris

Memoirs of a Courtesan in Nineteenth-Century Paris

Memoirs of a Courtesan in Nineteenth-Century Paris

Memoirs of a Courtesan in Nineteenth-Century Paris

Synopsis

When Céleste Mogador's memoirs were first published in 1854 and again in 1858, they were immediately seized and condemned as immoral and unsuitable for public consumption. For a reader in our more forgiving times, this extraordinary document offers not only a portrait of the early life of an intelligent, courageous, and infinitely intriguing Frenchwoman but also an exceedingly rare inside look at the world of the courtesans and prostitutes of nineteenth-century France. Writing to conciliate judges and creditors, Mogador (born Céleste Venard in 1824) explains how with tenacity, wit, and audacity, she managed to escape a difficult childhood and subsequent life of prostitution to become, successively, a darling of the dance halls, a circus rider, and an actress, all the while attracting wealthy young men who vied for her favor. Although her account gives readers a peek into the rakish demimonde made famous by Verdi's opera La Traviata, its greatest value lies in its candid picture of a spunky, self-educated woman who doggedly transformed herself into an esteemed and prolific novelist and playwright, who fell in love with a count and married him, and who made her name synonymous with the bohemian life of the 1840s and 1850s in Paris.
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