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“A Life of Love Affairs That Ended with God”

“A Life of Love Affairs That Ended with God” October 5, 2020

I wrote about Liane de Pougy’s diaries, for America‘s books issue:

…For Lianon (as she called herself), life was a banquet, and she took seconds of every dish. Men poured jewels in her lap and women threw themselves at her feet—de Pougy’s 1901 novel, Idylle Saphique, is a roman à clef about her affair with Natalie Barney, then the empress of lesbian Paris. At last she was swept away from the glittering world in the only manner that could have been more glamorous than her immorality: Prince Georges Ghika of Romania married her, winning the prize so many men had sought and changing her name yet again—to Princess Ghika.

By 1919, when de Pougy started to keep the diaries that became My Blue Notebooks, the height of her fame had passed. De Pougy’s diaries are full of drama and scandal, swirling gowns and opium dealers; but another note is creeping in. De Pougy writes with élan about her friends, her lovers and her foes (who are often also friends and lovers). But these anecdotes are punctuated by brief, sincere arias on an unexpected subject: her love of Jesus Christ. Slowly it becomes clear that de Pougy’s most intimate relationship was, is and will be with her Lord. In the last decade of her life she became a Dominican tertiary. She was buried, in 1950, in her religious habit.

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