Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Woman after me own Heart

The lusty babe above is one Ninon de l'Enclos, born this day 1620 in Paris, France. I was about to say that she beat off quite a number of competitors to be crowned heroine of the day, but given her career lets just say she fended off a number of challengers to that title. Mlle. de l'Enclos began her career as a simple prostitute, moved on to the courtesan stage, and eventually wound up a financially secure author. She was influenced by Epicureanism, and devoted her life to both physical and mental pleasure. Do not dismiss her as some lightweight rich man's whore, she encouraged the young Moliere, and upon her death left money to her accountant's son, a nine year old boy who the world later knew as Voltaire. When she began her life as a courtesan she took a number of famous, powerful (as in politically powerful), lovers, but never more than one at a time. I guess a girl has to know her limitations. It is a sign of her wit, and winning personality that she was able to tell one that his time has passed frankly, and that fellow would then become fast friends with his successor in interests. Even in the France of the time, this life was not exactly smiled upon, and Mlle. de l'Enclos was sent to a convent, until the intercession of another heroine Christina of Sweden helped arrange her release. She was famous for her wit (amongst other traits I am sure), and one said "We should take care to lay in a stock of provisions, but not of pleasures: these should be gathered day by day." Here, here to that as a way of looking at life, all too often we forget the pleasures of life. They are lost in the day to day grind that we have to suffer just to be able to pay the mortgage, or we try to make them too complicated. The simplest pleasures are usually the best. She retired from the courtesan life in the late 1660's and set up one of the most famous Paris salons, where she befriended another pretty (soon to be) famous playwright, Jean Racine. After her death, the duc de Saint-Simon summed up her life as follows "A shining example of the triumph of vice, when directed with intelligence and redeemed by a little virtue." Hopefully, we my time comes someone, somewhere can say similar words about me. So, for making a virtue of vice, and sprinkling in a load of intelligence, and being an independent woman of means when it wasn't so fashionable to be, Ninon de l' Enclos (November 10th, 1620-October 17th, 1705, at the age of 84), you are my heroine of the day.

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