Anne Desclos aka Dominique Aury
She was known for most of her life as Dominique Aury, a name she may have first assumed while working in the French Underground. A graduate of the Sorbonne, Anne Desclos helped to distribute a subversive magazine named Lettres Françaises during the Nazi occupation of France. The editor of Lettres Françaises was Jean Paulhan, her lover.
My favorite description1 of Anne Desclos comes from a British journalist, who wrote:
Aury was an eminent figure in literary France . . . A translator, editor and judge of literary prizes, for a quarter of a decade, Aury was the only woman to sit on the reading committee of publishers Gallimard (a body that also included Albert Camus) and was a holder of the Légion d’Honneur. She could scarcely have been more highbrow, nor, according to de St Jorre, more quietly and soberly dressed, more ‘nun-like’.
~ Geraldine Bedell | I wrote the story of O
It must have been a fascinating life, living that particular exterior, yet underneath it all, the quiet, soberly dressed, nun-like creature was also the author of the Story of O.
Anne Desclos aka Dominique Aury aka Pauline Réage
Anne Desclos will be forever known to the BDSM community as Pauline Réage. If you aren’t familiar with the Story of O, you really must read it, it’s classic literature. Portions of it can be disturbing, some of the pictures it paints aren’t the prettiest. Yet, it’s an absolute staple of 20th century BDSM culture.
I can’t help but think of the Story of O every time I see rings in a pussy. The Upper Floor, Kink.com’s attempt to portray a highbrow BDSM culture, is another continual reminder of the Story of O‘s influence. My first exposure to objectification and the concept of “sharing” a submissive came from the book as well.
The Story of O will forever be a classic of BDSM literature, the influence it’s had on our community is the most obvious reason. And, it will also be a classic of sexual literature in general. not only was it penned by a famous literary figure, it was, most importantly, written by a woman. In that sense, it was the first of it’s kind!
At some point in time, I’d like to put together a proper biography of this fascinating women. Until then, here is Anne Desclos aka Dominique Aury aka Pauline Réage, in her own words.
Who I am finally, if not the long silent part of someone, the secret and nocturnal part which has never betrayed itself in public by any thought, word, or deed, but communicates through subterranean depths of the imaginary with dreams as old as the world itself?
I wasn’t young, I wasn’t pretty, it was necessary to find other weapons.
I think that submissiveness can [be] and is a formidable weapon, which women will use as long as it isn’t taken from them.
Is O used by René and Sir Stephen, or does she in fact use them, and…all those irons and chains and obligatory debauchery, to fulfill her own dream—that is, her own destruction and death? And, in some surreptitious way, isn’t she in charge of them? Doesn’t she bend them to her will?
Debauchery conceived of as a kind of ascetic experience is not new, either for men or for women, but until Story of O no woman to my knowledge had said it.
I think I have a repressed bent for the military, I like discipline without question, specific schedules and duties.
By my makeup and temperament I wasn’t really prey to physical desires. Everything happened in my head.
Story of O is a fairy tale for another world, a world where some part of me lived for a long time, a world that no longer exists except between the covers of a book.
I wrote it alone, for him, to interest him, to please him, to occupy him. I wasn’t young, nor particularly pretty. I needed something which might interest a man like him.
I found that stiffly saluting member, of which he was so proud, rather frightening, and to tell the truth I found his pride slightly comical. I thought that that must be embarrassing for him, and thought how much more pleasant it was to be a girl. That, by the way, is an opinion I still hold today.
To love is to live on the precipice.
Keep me rather in this cage, and feed me sparingly, if you dare. Anything that brings me closer to illness and the edge of death makes me more faithful. It is only when you make me suffer that I feel safe and secure. You should never have agreed to be a god for me if you were afraid to assume the duties of a god, and we know that they are not as tender as all that. You have already seen me cry. Now you must learn to relish my tears.
To say that from the moment her lover had left, O began to await his return would be an understatement. She turned into pure vigil, darkness in waiting expectation of light.
The fact that he gave her was to him a proof, and ought to be one for her as well that she belonged to him: one can only give what belongs to you.
As a matter of fact,” the other voice went on, “if you do tie her up from time to time, or whip her just a little, and she begins to like it, that’s no good either. You have to get past the pleasure stage, until you reach the stage of tears.
O was infinitely more moving when her body was covered with marks, of whatever kind, if only because these marks made it impossible for her to cheat and immediately proclaimed, the moment they were seen, that anything went as far as she was concerned. For to know this was one thing, but to see the proof of it, and to see the proof constantly renewed, was quite another.
O felt that her mouth was beautiful, since her lover condescended to thrust himself into it . . .
Lovers and mystics are familiar with this sense of grandeur, this taste of joy – in abandoning oneself to the will of others.
The voluntary captive
The speechless the prisoner
Which I hide in my very depths…
- I’ve read more than a few researching this intriguing woman ↩