I thought we’d take a look at Jacques Serguine’s Eloge de la fessée (In Praise of Spanking) which was reviewed in the 1976 issue of Panorama magazine whose full colour cover was brought to the internet for the first time here.
The slim volume – part memoire, part treatise – had been originally published in France three years earlier and caused something of a furore. It’s author was a 38-year-old with a string of successful novels and children’s stories behind him.
Another contemporary review appeared in Janus magazine written by non other than our friend Murray Roberts who introduced Serguine to his mostly British readership thus:
M. Serguine sees himself as a missionary, bringing to the heathen the gospel of spanking, as given by a man to a consenting woman, adding an extra dimension of pleasure, learning, and reconciliation to their sexual relationship. As far as readers of this review are concerned, he is presumably preaching to the converted, but we can nonetheless enjoy his sermons.
An early example of the flavour of Serguine’s writing is his description of the first spanking he ever administered to a woman. He was in love with, and living with, a girl called Michele but petty disputes had brought their relationship to the point of collapse:
I remember the occasion very well. Perhaps it was during the summer, I seem to recall that the streets were very empty and the occupants of the houses all away. We were in bed together, and Michele, who normally set up nudity as a sort of declaration of woman’s rights, was for once wearing quite a long night-dress. It was two or three o’clock in the morning. The night was hot, oppressive, then cold because we hungered and thirsted for that love from which we were fleeing yet again, and for the sleep that we repelled.
And then everything became, at any rate for a few moments, so obvious, so easy, and so simple. Michele in the bed, was on my right side, and although in the gloom I could not see her body very distinctly, I knew where it was. I slid my right arm under Michele’s back and raised her, setting her upright, at the same time drawing her to me and bending her, really more over my stomach and thighs than across my knees.
Then I raised Michele’s long night dress, nearly as far as her waist, and, her little behind innocent and offered up to me in the semi darkness, set about applying to it a resounding spanking. At first rather uncertain of the degree of force, even of the rhythm that I should observe, I was soon swept up by a natural force and rhythm, without conscious calculation, as in physical games or the act of love.
I remember the too sudden, too violent onrush of feelings, of emotions, I thought of Michele’s voluntary helplessnes, of her nakedness, of my own brutality. I have never known just when Michele realised that I was going to give her and that she was going to receive a spanking.
Undoubtedly the first smack hurt her considerably, but she was still taken by surprise. Her little bottom seemed to contract instinctively, and perhaps she uttered a brief, stifled cry. Before I could stop to think I continued to spank her, and then Michele and her body accepted the spanking; her bottom relaxed, calm and passive under the rain of smarting slaps.
I took advantage of that acceptance to prolong and intensify the spanking. Her little behind in turn closed again, tightened and re-opened, in an almost involuntary and unconscious attempt to avoid, to escape me. Of course, it was at that moment that I myself was tempted to stop. But, in a paradoxical way, I believed that to do so would be proof, not only of weakness, but of egotism, as if I had substituted, and almost for myself alone, a different pleasure to that from which we were fleeing.
So I spanked Michele for several more minutes, even more forcefully, making her write, sigh, then begin to undulate gently and finally raise her charming bottom one last time, then let it settle, hot and relaxed, just as I for my part smacked her one last time, then stopped.
A further spanking of Michele takes place while the couple are sharing a house at the sea-side with various other people. Michele borrows his car one morning to go horse-riding and returns in a fit of the sulks, (“the car had resisted her, perhaps the horse also”) retiring to her bedroom and refusing to join the party for lunch.
In his review Murray described the Proustian final sentence of this passage as “superbly evocative…and almost worth buying the book for this alone”.
I turned on my heel like the ghost of Frakenstein and advanced towards the bed. Michele undid the single button of her trousers, unzipping the zip-fastener, and, without my having said a word, rolled over on her stomach, enquiring in a voice muffled, but gay, or perhaps I should say resigned mad contented, if that was convenient. I opened my mouth to say ‘No’, then sat down on the side of the bed, took Michele under the arms and, without looking at me or raising her head, she herself helped me to put her, face down, across my thighs and my knees. In this position her marvellously round behind stood out unforgettably, harmonious and provocative.’
I never gave Michele so spectacular a spanking for her and for me. It seemed to me that I would never stop and Michele’s bottom clearly did not wish me ever to stop. At the end it had taken on the angry, velvety, and flaming colour of a raspberry in sunlight. For a while after that, Michele and me, we had been happy.
I can feel that spanking in my hand even now.
This third extract is another highly evocative account of a spanking that he gave to his wife after she had wearied and exasperated him:
Seated, I survey her from top to bottom one last time. Thus, erect in front of me, clothed and blushing, she is so different from me, so very enclosed in her own world. I take her by the hand, and she furtively squeezes my fingers. I betray that last confidence, and abuse it by pulling her by the hand towards me. She yields, she bends, stoops, and lays herself face downwards across my knees and my thighs. She tries somehow to keep her balance, but I can see that what would torment me does not in the least discomfort her, secretly rather delights her; to have her head lower than all her body, her legs dangling awkwardly, to feel her arms cumbersome and useless. In that unnatural position she succeeds without apparent effort in remaining supple, relaxed, warm. and solid, . . . as if she was lying on a bed of roses.”
His wife is wearing a short silk skirt, carrying the brand name of a famous couturier. He recalls how he used to raise this skirt very gingerly, fearing to crumple and damage the expensive material, until his wife told him one day that a little sadistic indifference to such considerations added spice to the situation. So now:
“I seize the lower hem of the skirt in two places, and with uninhibited pleasure and indifference pull it up over my wife’s hips, almost to her waist. I seize in its turn the upper hem of the close-fitting little knickers and, doing my utmost not to touch the flesh, which would be a sign of complicity, a caress, lower them to the delicious crease of her thighs. I greatly dislike removing them completely, because they serve as a jewel-case, a picture-frame, and also because to slide them all the way to her feet, and pull them off, would be too long a journey, too distracting and diverting.
Thus, framed between the knickers and the other rumpled little coils of her skirt, her pale bottom seems offered up to me, tensely expectant, innocent and provocative, yet at the same time arrogant and perverse. I set myself then to spanking this submissive flesh, whose very submission provokes and defies me, reddening, yielding, always regaining its shape and its miraculous beauty under the injury of my blows.
Passing from one part to another of her delicious behind, from the top to the bottom, the right side to the left side. (truly the image, and the expression, cheek by cheek, have never been more appropriate). according as it crimsons so prettily, as it tenses or relaxes to escape or to offer itself, I spank my little shrew of a wife until, just as in making love, she shudders with pleasure, her little behind writhes uncontrollably, her sex, I can tell, it also is ready to overflow and melt, until, then, she accepts as one of the pinnacles of pleasure, even of bliss, the onset of tears, crying softly in a small voice.
And when she turns a little, deliberately, head on one side, I can see her eyes starry with contentment and mischief, and the slightly tremulous smile which, in her triumphant defeat, transfigures her. She is mine. I can leave her thus, hypocritically humiliated, and, unwearyingly admire my handiwork, with the same hypocritical modesty on my part, the same perverse pride with which the Caesars counted and contemplated their dead on the field of battle.”
Serguine has since written many other books which, if their covers are anything to go by, also include spanking as a theme.
His most recent work L’attendrisseur from 2007 looks especially interesting because it is described as “the new Eloge de la Fessee” and the cover has a photo of a bottom with a red hand print (above right).
In this video the photographer Patrick Georges is shown taking the cover shot and actually applying the handprint. As he works he discusses spanking and the fact that many models easily consent to that little pleasure (warning: it’s in French).
Finally, Serguine also wrote the screenplay for the 1969 film La Fiancee du Pirate. He must have enjoyed scripting this scene in particular which features the bottom of actress Bernadette Lafont. (Below the screen grab I’ve attached one more quote from Eloge de la fessée.)
“The rounded feminine behind is one of mankind’s most noble possessions.” – Jacques Serguine 1973.
Many thanks to Murray for his help with this post.