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The Corridors of Roissy

"Jean Paul Sartre has pointed out that although French literature is generally known, outside France,
for its humanism and rationalism, it has always produced "works that are secret and black,"
which may well be "its most beautiful creations." Sartre mentions Francois Villon, the Marquis de Sade,
Rimbaud, the Count de Lautreamont..."

'... then the ground, cold as before, became rough, she was walking upon flagstones, sandstone, perhaps granite. Twice the valet brought her to a halt, twice she heard a key scrape in a lock and a lock click as a door closed.'

"(de Sade's) Justine is the stereotype sex-object figure (invariably female, since most
pornography is written by men or from the stereotyped male point of view): a bewildered
victim, whose consciousness remains unaltered by her experience. But O is an adept;
whatever the cost in pain and fear, she is grateful for the opportunity to be initiated
into a mystery. That mystery is the loss of the self...."
( Susan Sontag The Pornographic Imagination )

'The heels of her shoes made less noise on the hallway
floor than her clogs had, the doors were shut, the
antichamber empty. O held her lover's hand...'

'She felt like a pillar of salt, a statue of ash, bitter, useless and damned,
like the salt statues of Gomorrah..."

'... the French tradition represented by Sade, Lautreamont, Bataille, and the authors of Story of O and The Image... suggests that "the obscene" is a primal notion of human consciousness, something much more profound than the backwash of a sick society's aversion to the body. Human sexuality is, quite apart from Christian repressions, a highly questionable phenomenon, and belongs, at least potentially, among the extreme rather than the ordinary experiences of humanity. Tamed as it may be, sexuality remains one of the demonic forces in human consciousness - pushing us at intervals close to taboo and dangerous desires, which range from the impulse to commit sudden arbitrary violence upon another person to the voluptuous yearning for the extinction of one's consciousness, for death itself." (Sontag)

"There existed another ending to the story of O.
Seeing herself about to be left by Sir Stephen, she
preferred to die. To which he gave his consent."

"Vanity ... is at the center of passionate love, or rather, if you fall in love, then everything in your condition that is not pathology is vanity... he wishes us to learn to see erotic coldness as vanity, and passion as vanity raised to madness." (Harold Bloom on Stendhal)

"Who is she?" people were asking. "Who does she belong to?"

"In the vision of the world presented by Story of O, the highest good is the transcendence of personality. The plot's movement is not horizontal, but a kind of ascent through degradation.... The terminal image for her achievement comes in the last scene of the book: O is led to a party, mutilated, in chains, unrecognizable, costumed (as an owl) - so convincingly no longer human that none of the guests thinks of speaking to her directly." (Sontag)

"In abolishing the Ego, in privaleging Other over Self, O mirrors the point of infinity which the perfect circle of her name symbolically represents, signifier of a lack that accepts itself, and in so doing, becomes eternal." (John Phillips)


Lux et umbra vicissim, sed semper amor
- "Light and shadow by turns, but always love" -

"The mysterious bond between pleasure and suffering
has certainly always existed; it is one of the vulnera naturae
which is as old as man himself..."
Mario Praz
The Romantic Agony

... now go to Corridors of Roissy
published article by Stefan

Pictures on this page (above):

1. Corinne Clery in Story of O (1975)
2. Guido Crepax: from Story of O
3. Leonor Fini: illustration from Story of O
4. Stefan: drawing inspired by Story of O
5. Legarde: cover photo for Return to the Chateau
(Grove Press1971)
6. Stefan: painting 'The Owl Mask'
7. corridor image: from Story of O 2 film poster
8. photo contributed by M.

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