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The perils of permissiveness

The erotic adventures of a teenager who finally meets her match became a succès de scandale in 1920, and will still raise eyebrows today

29 July 2023

9:00 AM

29 July 2023

9:00 AM

Ariane: A Russian Girl Claude Anet, translated by Mitchell Abidor

NYRB Classics, pp.176, 14.99

‘The world might condemn me, but what’s the world? A gathering of fools and a pile of prejudices.’ Thus, with all the certainty and absolutism of youth, does the 17-year-old Ariane reflect on the prospect of selling herself. There would be an element of épater les bourgeois in this sentiment in almost any age, but to see it so freely expressed at the dawn of the last century comes as something of a surprise.

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