The Songs of Bilitis
December 2, 2003 10:56 AM   Subscribe

The Songs of Bilitis. 'First published in Paris in 1894, this purports to be translations of poems by a woman named Bilitis, a contemporary and acquaintance of Sappho. This caused a sensation, not only because finding an intact cache of poems from a completely unknown Greek poet circa 600 B.C. would be a miracle, but because of its open and sensitive exploration of lesbian eroticism. Actually Bilitis never existed. The poems were a clever forgery by Pierre Louÿs--the "translator"; to lend weight, he had even included a bibliography with bogus supporting works ... '
A new addition to the canon.
posted by plep (8 comments total)
Previous Sacred Texts thread.
posted by plep at 10:59 AM on December 2, 2003

a little more on the Daughters of Bilitis which is unclear on whether they knew Pierre Louys wrote the poems or not. : >
posted by amberglow at 9:45 PM on December 2, 2003

This is, as the Americans say, way too much information, but Bilitis was my introduction to puberty and, in its wayward lyricism, to silly poetry. Louys's (can't find the umlaut) complete erotic writings - L'oeuvre erotique - are available in a fine, hardbound and economical volume, published by Sortil├Ęges, Paris, in 1994.

Thanks for reminding me plep - you truly are a Renaissance prince among men. Is there nothing that doesn't interest you? No; nor me neither, as they say.

It's about as dirty-delicious as you can get. In French, of course. Wink wink, nudge nudge. :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:20 PM on December 2, 2003

Thanks Miguel. ;)
posted by plep at 12:10 AM on December 3, 2003

I'm glad I'm not the only one whose erudite parents unknowingly provided me with this furtive wank material. The woodcuts were pretty good two. A lovely hardback volume, printed in Paris, complete with Chryse and a few other Louys goodies as well.

But really: sacred text? To whom?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:47 AM on December 3, 2003

bloody homonyms. must be thyme for bed.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:03 AM on December 3, 2003

Good stuff, as always plep - thanks! And I second Miguel's comments about you as a Renaissance prince.

I really liked the illustrator of these texts too and went looking for a bit more about Willy Pogany. He's done some fine work.
posted by madamjujujive at 3:16 AM on December 3, 2003

But really: sacred text? To whom?

I've followed this site for a while. The focus seems to have expanded a bit from strictly 'sacred texts' to include other literary and folkloris tidbits which are just generally interesting :-
Irish and Japanese travelogues, the Japanese tea ceremony, William Morris, 'The Worm Ouroboros', Pennsylvanian folklore, the worldview of Pythagoras, etc.
posted by plep at 7:58 AM on December 3, 2003

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