busted; or, addendum to the previous post

Tissot reminds me that even if I manage to kick the chocolate and cream habit, I’ve still got another, much more dangerous habit to break: novel reading.

“Of all the things that have ruined women’s health, perhaps the greatest has been the infinite multiplication of novels over the past century. From bassinet to old age, women read them with such great passion that they fear being distracted, even for a moment. Nor do they engage in physical exercise and often they go too bed very late in order to satisfy their passion; all of this absolutely ruins their health (without even mentioning those who are, themselves, authors and this number is also growing daily). A ten year old girl who reads instead of running will, at the age of twenty find herself a nervous woman and poor nurse [to her infants].” (Tissot, De la santé des gens de lettres. Lausanne, François Grasset, 1770, pp. 153-4, note 1; translation mine).


(and if you really want proof of the wanton excess caused by overactive imaginations, head over to the Art Institute of Chicago for a look at Greuze’s Bernard d’Agesci’s Lady Reading the Letters of Heloise and Abelard, c. 1780)


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