Tag: Luis Buñuel

Belle de jour by Joseph Kessel

Posted September 4, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Erotica / 0 Comments

Belle de jour by Joseph KesselTitle: Belle de Jour (Goodreads)
Author: Joseph Kessel
Translator: Geoffrey Atheling Wagner
Published: Overlook Books, 1928
Pages: 188
My Copy: eBook

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Belle de Jour is the story of Séverine Sérizy, a beautiful young housewife married to a successful doctor. Her life is pretty great, except she feels like she cannot fulfil her sexual affinity for masochistic desires with her husband. She gets a job as a prostitute under the pseudonym Belle de Jour, only working from two to five each week day, so she can return before her husband gets home. Her job gets her involved with a young gangster named Marcel who allows her to explore all her sexual fantasies. However this relationship of thrills becomes far too much and life gets complicated for Séverine.

Most people will know the story of Belle de Jour as it also a classic piece of French cinema from 1967. Directed by Luis Buñuel and staring Catherine Deneuve, the film explores the exact same story in a richer and interesting way. Buñuel is a Spanish director who has worked on movies in Spain, Mexico and France; he is also acclaimed for his avant-garde surrealist style. I was blown away by this movie and I only saw the movie recently. The concepts of the movie kept swimming through my mind that I needed to read the book to find out more.

What I have found is that the story in the novel is very similar but the surrealist nature of the movie was not there. I did however gain a few insights into the life of Séverine Sérizy that I never picked up on. There is some interesting observations to be made between the connection in literature and fetish, especially with sexual sadism and sexual abuse. This has been a common problem found in books like Fifty Shades of Grey and other novels that deal with BDSM. It is a little sad to think this trope steams all the way to 1928 and maybe further. I think French erotica is really interesting and it is weird to think this was written so long ago.

If you have seen the movie Belle de Jour, then reading the book is not really beneficial. Joseph Kessel does not offer anything interesting and I think everything that made the movie great was all original content from the mind of Luis Buñuel. I plan to re-watch the film sometime so I can write a review of it. As for French erotica, I plan to read more and I am not sure what to read.  I think might have to read The Story of O, but I am open to more suggestions.