Le Jardin des Supplices
Le Jardin des Supplices Le Jardin des Supplices
Paris: Libraire Charpentier et Fasquelle. 1899.

First, limited edition. 124 of 150 copies. 260x175mm. Contemporary red half morocco with marbled boards. Top edge gilt, the others uncut. Marbled endpapers. Book-plate of previous owner: "Ex-Libris, Emmy Joubert". First edition of this important fin-de-siecle text, in which the extremes of sado-masochism and colonialism are seen as interelated, and in which the radical anarchist author (a leading pro-Drefusard) creates the demonic English heroine Clara, perhaps the most memorable of the many femmes fatales of the period in whom the sexual and murderous impulses are terrifyingly confused. She stimulates herself and her lover to witness the tortures of a Chinese prison, the resulting fornication taking place in a nearby brothel: "I promise to lead you right down to the depths of the mysteries of Love and Death...they are one and the same". The frontispiece, a colour lithograph by A. Clot, is from a drawing by Rodin who was a close friend and artistic associate of Mirbeau.  

The dynamic of the book, in which, according to Mario Praz, "All the perverse elements of the literature of the fin-de-siecle seem to converge", is memorably pointed by the dedication: "The Priests, Soldiers and judges, all those who educate, rule and govern mankind, I dedicate these pages of Murder and Blood".