Boileau, Jacques. [EROTICA] Histoire de Flagellans.
Amsterdam: Francois Vander Plaats, 1701.
12mo. , 319pp., [11pp Index]. First French edition (with mispageination). 19th century black quarter calf over marbled boards, blue title label. Minor wear to extremities, strong and bold, a very good copy. Plain endpapers, internally clean, copious ink notes in an old hand to prelims, and some marginalia (it will come as no surprise that I much prefer books that people have annotated and constructed, in this case, a miniscule bibliography of works on flagellation in crabbed black ink, and a bit of underlining here and there...but then I am weird like that; if something makes it 400 years without any manifestations of human enthusiasm, it probably never engendered any), altogether a lovely little book about, well, whips, bondage and flogging and their various uses and inspirations. Originally published in Latin a year earlier, this was for a very long time the primary reference work on the subject, and in a very real way it is the first sexualisation of flagellation; Boileau points out that the original inspiration for flagellation was that the act suppressed lust, whereas medical science has since discovered that in many cases and manners it has quite the opposite effect (duh!). This text very clearly pointed out the interweaving of pain and sexual desire, thus chucking the flagellant sects of the church into a spot of red faced disarray. Religious flagellation became increasingly frowned upon, but of course carried on sub rosa...along with a whole encyclopaedia of other stuff that later in the 18th century was to become a source of endless fascination to a number of writers of clandestine fiction. In many ways this work is one of the earliest forefathers of the genre that we now recognise loosely as “Sex stuff I’m pretending really hard is science stuff!” Scarce, and, obviously, pretty fascinating if you like that sort of thing (Narrator: It turned out LOTS of people like that sort of thing).