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Welcome sign in sign up. If the remark is intended to mean that Restif was, in fact, a prolific pornographer, then for once a blurb is less than fair. Prolific Restif undoubtedly was. He published his first book in , when he was thirty-three, and it is said that his total score, by the time he died in , was volumes. The figure sounds incredible, but he was a printer by trade and, during the second part of his life, seems to have concentrated on printing and publishing his own works—sometimes even composing them directly into print, without going through the process of writing them down before-hand.
Of these volumes only a proportion are available in the British Museum and the London Library, but they appear to be sufficiently representative to allow one to rebut the charge that Restif was first and foremost a pornographer. He was something of a mild sex maniac—a foot-fetishist with an incest fixation—which is quite a different matter.
Boswell, indeed, frequently comes to mind as one reads Restif, and for more than one reason. Restif was a young provincial who came up to Paris from Burgundy, just as the uneasy young laird gravitated towards London from the dying cultural center of Edinburgh. They both had a naive respect for great men and for learning; neither could venture into the streets without meeting a pretty woman; and they both puzzle the modern reader by writing at times well above the level one might expect of such feverish eccentrics.
They both stood in a special relationship to Rousseau. This is exclusive content for subscribers only. Choose a Print, Digital, or All Access subscription. If you are already a subscriber, please be sure you are logged in to your nybooks. Facebook Twitter RSS.
RÉTIF DE LA BRETONNE
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Les nuits de Paris, ou, Le spectateur nocturne
He was born at Sacy and educated at a Jansenist college. He worked in Paris as a journeyman printer and from the second half of the s began a literary career. He was a prolific and versatile writer: h is oeuvre covers around two hundred volumes on all kinds of subjects, ranging from social-documentary novels to pornography. Many of his books were printed by himself.
Welcome sign in sign up. If the remark is intended to mean that Restif was, in fact, a prolific pornographer, then for once a blurb is less than fair. Prolific Restif undoubtedly was. He published his first book in , when he was thirty-three, and it is said that his total score, by the time he died in , was volumes.
Les Nuits de Paris
The term retifism for shoe fetishism was named after him. Owing to a scandal in which he was involved, he was apprenticed to a printer at Auxerre , and, having served his time, went to Paris. He drew on the episodes of his own life for his books, which, "in spite of their faded sentiment, contain truthful pictures of French society on the eve of the Revolution ". The original editions of these, and indeed of all his books, have long been bibliographical curiosities owing to their rarity, the beautiful and curious illustrations which many of them contain, and the quaint typographic system in which most are composed. The fall of the assignats during the Revolution forced him to make his living by writing, profiting on the new freedom of the press. In he received a gratuity of francs from the Thermidor Convention.