The love letters of Natalie Clifford Barney and Liane de Pougy
Olivier Wagner (class 2010), curator at the Manuscripts departement of the BnF, Suzanne Robichon, publisher and writer, and Élisabeth Lebovici, art historian, journalist and art critic, will debate about « La Correspondance amoureuse de Natalie Clifford Barney et Liane de Pougy », as part of the program "Tuesdays at the École des chartes".
One was a rich American heiress, the other one one of the most famous courtesans of the Belle Époque.
The very young Natalie Clifford Barney presented herself one day in 1899 at the home of Liane de Pougy. Dressed up as a Florentine page, she pretended to be the messenger of love sent by Sappho; with the invulnerable assurance of her twenty-three years, she obtained what she hardly dared to ask for. The affair lasted less than a year, giving way to more complex feelings. Natalie was not able to wrest Liane from her lucrative life of gallantry.
From their unlikely meeting was born a passion, whose one hundred and seventy-two letters published in 2019 by Gallimard and unpublished until then, narrate the usual frame, from the exquisite illusions of the beginnings to the bitter taste of regret. In these pages, we follow the development of a love that was written at the same time as it was lived and which, within a few months, gave rise to the great hope of a possible emancipation for two, far from the oppression of men.