"Daudet intends to warn young men not to squander their more serious affections on girls of low origin"

    Reference to a work by French novelist Alphonse Daudet, a popular novelist of his day now largely forgotten.  The novel chronicles the downfall of a young man due to his love affair with an artist's model – in the scene Freud references, Jean comes to feel that his prospective lover is "no longer a woman...but something heavy, ghastly, which suffocated him, and which he was momentarily tempted to drop". 

The adulterous Daudet's later years were afflicted by crippling syphilis, and Sappho acts as a cautionary tale of the dangers of women, dedicated thus: "For my sons when they are twenty years old".


Online edition of Daudet's 'Sappho', translated by George Burnham Ives, (1884)