Les Diaboliques by Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly and Félicien Rops (1882)
Filled with debauchery, revenge, and crime mostly committed by women, the collection of six short stories Les Diaboliques [The She-Devils] by the French Catholic writer Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly (1808-1889) was first published by Dentu in 1874. The book instantly met with tremendous success and sold out in a few days. Although the author initially planned to add six more “diabolical women” to the first six stories, he never did. Stirred up by a scathing article issued in Le Charivari, an illustrated satirical French newspaper, the Public Prosecutor put both author and publisher on trial for affront to public decency, and the remaining copies of the book were destroyed. Arguing that he sought to arouse a feeling of horror in readers through the depiction of human atrocities, Barbey avoided trial thanks to the intercession of the statesman Léon Gambetta. The edition exhibited here, which includes a portrait of the author, a frontispiece, and eight illustrations by Félicien Rops, was published by Alphonse Lemerre in 1882, a few months after the Law on the Freedom of the Press was passed in France on July 29, 1881.
First edition: https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k10733625