London and Paris: [N.P.], 1898. First edition. Modern buckram with the original front wrap adhered to front board. Blue endpapers. Internally a Fine, unmarked copy. While the title page presents the erotic pseudonym of a woman who purportedly translated this "real tale" from French, OCLC lists Marie la Goule's Yvette as being released later than the present work, in 1908. Based on "the lack of references [to an earlier French edition] in clandestine catalogues of the period, or in the catalogues of libraries and private collections," Kearney concludes in his bibliography that the novel was of English origin with the French "original" instead being "a publisher's promotional gimmick." Copies of the first edition are quite scarce institutionally, with OCLC listing only 4 of the present. Of its four appearances in the modern auction record, two of these were in large lots of historical erotica.
Often described, on the surface at least, as "a medium for expressing norms about male power and domination" and for responding to everyday sexual repression, Victorian pornography is a complex genre whether it fits or defies this definition (Diamond). Like the novel, it experienced a market boom during the period; it offered opportunities for readers of all genders to illustrate, give into, and resist the strict guidelines around them (Weeks). While much published material emphasized the rape, abduction, or subordination of women for a male readership, other fantasies also existed (Joudrey). Their preservation in works such as "Mary Suckit's" Yvonne allow us to consider how literacy and expendable income created a much wider readership that demanded access to erotic content aimed at their interests. Released under a female pseudonym, titled under a female name, and narrated from the perspectives of two female characters, Yvonne unabashedly centers women's desires, physical pleasure, and sexual exploration. Opening with the titular character's self-discovery of masturbation, the book's every page from then on depicts women's pursuit of every form of intercourse not for procreative purposes but for self-satisfaction -- whether it happens alone, with other women, with men, or in groups. The graphic realism of what happens to bodies during sex acts -- potentially educational for women and queer readers rarely presented with sexual facts -- is included as a key part of the experience rather than something embarrassing or shameful. In defiance of the genre's promotion of rape culture and heteronormativity, Yvonne depicts every character as curious and autonomous, and every sex act as more exciting for its participants' enthusiastic consent.
Kearney 86. Register of Erotic Books 4953. Near Fine (Item #5232)