of bodily secretions

Going through a remarkable batch of letters today, from a woman who suffers from excessive perspiration (according to her husband she drenched 1000 tops in the course of the winter), to a man who didn’t eat vegetables because he thought this would lead to flatulence. My favourite, however, is the sad tale of Rossary, a young onanist: sent off to a poor wetnurse, he developed a weak stomach. Things got worse after he was sent to a pension where he was (once again) poorly fed. How this all relates to his current affliction – a propensity for masturbation – is not quite clearly laid out. But he is remarkable detailed in his description. He was introduced to masturbation by school friends, but it was only after continued practice that he experienced what he refers to as “un chatouillement voluptueux mais sans émission de semence” (Fonds Tissot, IS3784/II/144.02.04.11).

My goodness! I’m almost starting to feel a bit warm myself, she said, winking…

Farts, sweat, and the solitary emissions that resulted from onanism. All “secret” bodily secretions now necessarily public as they enter into the realm of epistolary commerce….

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