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Title: Les Bijoux Indiscrets, or, The Indiscreet Toys Author: Denis Diderot Release Date: May 6, [EBook #] Language: English Character set. The Talking Jewels (Les Bijoux Indiscrets) is one of the great ribald classics of all time – comparable to Bocaccio’s Decameron, Rabelais’ Gargantua and. This chapter offers, as a kind of afterthought, a reference to Tertullian’s account of genital speech. The reference here is to Denis Diderot’s Les Bijoux indiscrets.

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LibraryThing All topics Hot topics Book discussions. It is a bawdy satire of manners and morals of the French court under Louis XV, and attacks many of the arts and institutions of the time. King Louis is not, of course, mentioned by name in the novel, or we might never have heard from Diderot again. Instead the novel is set in the Congo in the year 1,,, and tells the story of the great sultan Mangogul and his magic ring.

Mangogul Louis XV is married to Manimonbanda Queen Mariebut like many diplomatic marriages it is without affection. Instead Mangogul bestows his love and attention on his mistress Mirzoza Madame de Pompadour.

DIDEROT, Denis.- Les bijoux indiscrets. Illus…

One day he confesses that he is bored. He suspects the ladies of his court are up to all sorts of romantic intrigues, and he would love to hear the details, but he knows they’ll never be honest about such things. Mirzoza suggests that the genie Cucufa may have a way to learn their secrets. Mangogul summons Cucufa with a clap. The genie appears and, on hearing Mangogul’s request, presents him with a magic ring. It can make the wearer invisible and take him instantly to any place he wants to go.


But more importantly, when pointed in the direction of a woman and turned a particular way, it can make the lady’s jewel speak. And her jewel–that second set of lips beneath her petticoats–will always speak the bijoyx about its experiences.

Mangogul wastes no time in putting the ring to the test, both in private and in public, but even he–who expected to be scandalized–is shocked by what he hears. Could it by that not a single woman in the Congo is faithful to her husband or betrothed?

Is there anyone who doesn’t entertain a regiment of lovers? Mirzoza accepts Mangogul’s bet that there is not a single example of fidelity and pure love in the kingdom Mirzoza herself excepted. Meanwhile, the mysterious talking jewels have all the Congo astir. The Academy of Sciences debates the matter and concludes that is a phenomenon of celestial origin like the tides.

Tests are conducted and demonstrations attempted, but to no avail. Nonetheless rumors take flight, and jewels that Mangogul hasn’t even been near are accused of the most outlandish speeches.

Diderot – The Indiscreet Jewels | Literary Centennials | LibraryThing

Nervous women flee the capital, and a brisk trade arises in devices their inventors claim will muzzle the voice of even the most loquacious jewel. While this is going on, Diderot inserts comments on a number of topics.

The theater, he says, has degenerated to the point where everything bijiux artificial and stylized. Actors can no longer adapt their meager talents to a role, and instead “there was little hope that a play would be performed with any measure of success unless the characters were tailored to the defects of the actors.


There follows a debate on whether the arts are obliged to imitate nature, or whether obvious and intentional artificiality is acceptable. Like most satires, The Indiscreet Jewels has lost some of its bite over time, and many of the personalities and issues are unrecognizable by modern readers and must be explained by footnotes.

Louis XV is depicted as a good-natured but mischievous overgrown adolescent easily bored by matters of state or intellectual topics. The heroine of the piece is Madame de Pompadour, wise beyond her tender years, compassionate but firm, and a brilliant patroness of the arts and sciences.

Women in general–despite being ruthlessly humiliated by Mongogul and his ring–come off favorably in the novel as persons with their own identity, ideas and sexuality. This is a delightfully funny, offbeat and racy novel that both shows us life in the decadent French royal court and previews some of the ideas of one the Enlightenment’s most important thinkers.

Oct 2, Here are a few illustrations from various editions of the novel. The lady in the third and fourth pictures is being measured for a device that will she hopes muffle the voice of her jewel. Good gracious, and we were thinking of the perfidious English. Literary Centennials 47 members messages You must be a member of this group to post.

About The Indiscreet Jewels by Denis Diderot This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.