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Letters to the Unknown

Prosper Merimee wrote many novels and short stories , most famous being Carmen and Matteo Falcone. My favorite, however, is his first novel, Diane de Turgis. In it, Merimee managed to mix gruesome details, keen observations and splendid humor into a fine literary cocktail.
Regrettably, if unavoidably, Merimee had no access to e-mail. Showing remarkable ingenuity for a 19th century man, he had figured out how to use a quill pen to accomplish what normal people do with a VT-100.

Most of Merimee's letters were to a lady whose identity remains an enigma to this day. The dozens of letters that he wrote to her survived and were published after his death as Letters to the Unknown. The proceeds from the publications paid for a Mass for his soul. If sentimentality is your drug of choice, savor The Unknown of our time.

We can almost -- but not quite -- recognize her. First look
Her head begins to turn, but never does traverse entirely. Closer look
We know all about her: how silky her braid is and how the garments cling to her.
Shadowplay
Hi-res
Braid Comfortable garments Mirror of the soul
Her eyes are bright.
We still cannot see the entire face.
Divorced from the cognizance of the Lady's identity, a romantic can appreciate the shape and grace as an abstraction, with neither lust nor predjudice. Hey, waaaait a moment! Had not Bernard Shaw claimed in Pygmalion that appreciation of someone's grace and talent cannot be purely intellectual? That would be for you to decide.
Torso Torso, again Front view
The Unknown favors a simple style:
comfortable, elegant and earthy.
Some can imagine their subject of interest in detail, complete with tiny shadows cast by the open shirt upon a breast. Others transpose her (or him) into the land where everyone wears leather and rides chopped bikes. The bookish kind could even visualize the neat future world were any girl worth admiring is wired for high-bandwidth cyber-sex.
Tanning Jacket Modem Cable
Hi-res
Just one realm remains mostly unexplored by the lovers' imagination.
It is the nasty realm of the everyday, where that wildest fantasy of your mate may be that you would do the dishes without being asked.
This unabashedly lecherous page follows a fine tradition: to justify nudity, refer to some classical prototype. How properly Victorian of him!