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Erotic ExchangesThe World of Elite Prostitution in Eighteenth-Century Paris$
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Nina Kushner

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780801451560

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801451560.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Erotic Exchanges

Nina Kushner

Cornell University Press

This introductory chapter narrates the story of Demoiselle Varenne, a prostitute in the high-end Parisian brothel of Madam Carlier. Varenne left the brothel as the mistress of an army lieutenant, who paid for her treatment for venereal disease and then established her in a chambre garnie. She soon traded the officer for another patron, the son of a trésorier general, who, in turn, was quickly replaced by the son of an army lieutenant general. Her story demonstrates that working as a professional mistress afforded a degree of agency and a potential for financial success that was unusual for women from humble backgrounds. It also shows that demimonde was an integral part of contemporary Parisian culture.

Keywords:   Demoiselle Varenne, Madam Carlier, prostitute, demimonde, financial success, Parisian culture

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