Monday, June 16, 2014

The Lover's Hair

James Jacques Tissot, Mme & M.Mauperin en Égypte

"She came to live only through him and for him, by his presence, by the thought of him, by his future, his portrait, which she carried when she last met him. When she parted from him, she ran her hands through his hair several times and then put on her gloves quickly. All the following day she breathed, sitting next to her husband, next to her daughter, in her house, the smell of her beloved and of his hair, which emanated from her hands, which she had not washed."

Edmond & Jules de Goncourt, Renée Mauperin (1864).


  1. Laurels04:43

    The idea of going 24 hrs without washing one's hands is killing the romance of this passage for me.

  2. I remember the memory rush of smelling my mother's hairbrush after her death. Such an individual scent, like a fingerprint, and really lovely on some people, warm, sweetish, and a bit oily, like the scent of henna flowers or osmanthus. My husband is fond of deeply inhaling the top of my head, especially when I haven't showered yet--I laugh, but I get it, too. I'm surprised no one has invented a way to preserve the scent--something rather nicer than those medieval "love apples," as a scent remembrance of your loved one!

  3. L,

    I was sure someone was going to say this. It's true of course.
    Remember though as teenagers when our love interest happened to touch us how we swore we'd never wash the spot? LOL!

  4. Amy,

    this is such a beautiful and poignant observation, thank you!
    Yes, the head and the hair has a lot of resonance with people who love one another, relatives as well as lovers. And of course who can not love the scent of children and babies on the top of their little heads?
    Surely that would beat the "love apples" idea, though the latter was supposed to be very sexual in scope. (sweat=erotic stimulus).

  5. Maria12:22

    This passage reminded me a poem - I'm sure you know it, from 'Les Chansons de Bilitis', and maybe posted this one here on Perfume Shrine...

    Je laisserai le lit comme elle l'a laissé, défait et rompu, les draps mêlés, afin que la forme de son corps reste empreinte à côté du mien.
    Jusqu'à demain je n'irai pas au bain, je ne porterai pas de vêtements et je ne peignerai pas mes cheveux, de peur d'effacer les caresses.
    Ce matin, je ne mangerai pas, ni ce soir, et sur mes lèvres je ne mettrai ni rouge ni poudre, afin que son baiser demeure.
    Je laisserai les volets clos et je n'ouvrirai pas la porte, de peur que le souvenir resté ne s'en aille avec le vent.

  6. Maria,

    this is a wonderful extract indeed. I haven't posted about Louys (forgive the lack of diacritics), but it encapsulates perfectly the feelings shared on the other fragment by freres Goncourt.

    I love this in particular: "afin que la forme de son corps reste empreinte à côté du mien". This is so incredibly romantic!

    Mille mercis!


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