If the white doors were closed, the girl would be a mystery and all that would remain on the canvas would be the little table, a painting with shadowy figures and the door. The interior would seem cold and uninviting, but the girl with the braids adds a mysterious touch to it. What is she looking at? Or should I say, on what strange gentleman are her eyes set? I overtake her again, pass her by, turn quickly round, and meet her face-to-face in order to observe her well. I stand and gaze into her eyes, and hit, on the spur of the moment, on a name which I have never heard before—a name with a gliding, nervous sound—Ylajali! I leant against a lamp-post near the fountain and listened for their footsteps on the stairs. They died away on the second floor.
Empress of Russia Catherine the Great. Although that power is what made Catherine the Great the victim of dishonourable misogynistic myths ever since. Nymphomania, bestiality, voyeurism, even a love of erotic furniture—there were few themes of sexual deviance that were not invented a propos the Empress of Russia. These are hardly the sort of numbers individual might expect from a raging femininity maniac. Her arranged marriage with her husband, the future Czar Peter IIIwas a mismatch from the beginning. Bynine years into her marriage, Catherine had already found an alternative lover, Sergei Saltykov. She would never marry all over again, instead taking lovers whom she promoted to key positions in the Russian government.