Un été à la campagne (A Summer in the Countryside) was published in Paris in 1868, and is almost certainly by the novelist and journalist Gustave Droz (1832–95), though some think that the publisher Auguste Poulet-Malassis (1825–78) may have had a hand in its publication, if not in the writing. Like many such narratives, it is an epistolatory volume, the story built around a supposedly private correspondence.

Adèle and Albertine are adolescent school friends, looking forward to the summer holidays in the French countryside with their respective families; they are also thinking rather a lot about sex. The book is written as a series of forty-one letters, describing in detail how their experiences of intimacy develop over the long hot months.

In 1901 a private press English translation of Un été à la campagne was published in Paris, which you can read here, and an online French text can be found here.

This was not the first time the summertime romp had been illustrated, nor the last. Auguste Brouet’s etchings had appeared two years earlier, with another set of illustrations, possibly by Paul Avril, not long before that. Other editions illustrated by Jean-Adrièn Mercier and Gaston Barret followed later.

Again Frans de Geetere brings his own, rather stark and exaggerated, interpretation to what is usually seen as an innocent account of sexual awakening; maybe the gaining of such experience can never be entirely innocent.

The de Geetere Un été à la campagne was probably self-published, in a limited numbered edition of 125 copies.

We are very grateful to the Varshavsky Collection in California for these images.