Woman and Puppet, Pierre Louys, illustrated by Clara Tice, “designed and supervised by Harry Cunningham” (The Pierre Louys Society, US, 1927, #617/990)
9 7/8″ X 6 1/2″, 270pp, hardbound with , black boards with red titles and decorations, MINT condition, with dust jacket wrapped in mylar. Bookstore stamp on front paste-down “C. J. Schnieder Books”
During the carnival in Seville, the Frenchman André Stévenol meets and falls under the spell of Conception ‘Concita’ Perez, a young Andalusian woman. His friend, don Mateo Diaz warns him off by describing his own history with the woman – a history of being repeatedly attracted and then rebuffed by her. Conchita continually flirted with other men to torture don Mateo. On each occasion he was made to feel guilty for his jealous thoughts and actions towards her, until he realised finally that he had been her puppet for fourteen months and in an explosion of passion he beat her. She then astonished him by declaring the violence a sign of the strength of his love and came to his bed. She was a virgin. Although the two then started living together, she continued her flirtatious behaviour towards other men and simultaneously became very possessive. Don Mateo left the country and travelled for a year to escape her.
The novel has a short epilogue, described as the moral of the piece. The Frenchman accidentally meets Conchita again, and they spend the night together. The next morning, as Conchita packs her bags for Paris, a note is received from don Mateo asking to be taken back into Conchita’s good graces.
Pierre Louys (1870 – 1925) was a French poet and writer, most renowned for lesbian and classical themes in some of his writings. He is known as a writer who “expressed pagan sensuality with stylistic perfection.” Woman and Puppet is described as “Spanish romance”. The “puppet” in the story refers to men she is able or unable to bend to her will.