my occasional musings on life, love, art, perfume ... what else is there?

8.12.2005

Unlikely Heroines: Second In A Series

"Harlot, yes. But traitoress? Never!" — Mata Hari, on trial.

Margaretha Geertruida Zelle was born in 1876 to a Dutch businessman and a mother of Javanese descent.

After a youth in which she was said to have found and used seductress skills at a tender age, an early failed marriage, two children and a bout as a would-be teacher, she moved to Paris where she found true calling as exotic dancer, courtesan (a word I love for all it implies and does not say) and spy of story and legend.

[Insert many anecdotes involving sleeping with the enemy -- both sides -- here.]

In 1917, Mata Hari was put on trial in France, accused of spying as a double agent for Germany and France and causing the deaths of thousands of soldiers in World War I.

Mata Hari's trial occurred at a time when France was sustaining significant losses, and it is thought that the French government found it convenient to blame all military failures of the last three years on the spy who used sex as a weapon.

Although probably a low level agent for the French and the Germans, there was no evidence she produced substantive intelligence for either side.

Mata Hari was found guilty and executed by firing squad on October 15, 1917.

One tale surrounding her execution claims that as the firing squad raised their guns, she blew a kiss to her killers, flung open her long coat ... and died exposing her naked body to the rain of bullets.

It's a bit tougher to assign heroine status to Mata Hari ... but I'm awarding it on the basis of sheer chutzpah. A brave, if amoral, woman who played both ends against the middle and, isn't it always the way, lost.

When I need easily digested historical facts, I use wikipedia. Thanks, wikipedia!

Today's fragrance: Creative Scentualization's Perfect Veil, the "your skin but better" flagship perfume. On me, a soft lemony vanilla, not all that sweet.

4 Comments:

Blogger Kyahgirl said...

Wouldn't you just like to get inside the head of someone like that and really get to know them? Thanks for titillating my curiosity!
(no wonder I keep checking your blog all day long-it's magnificent!!!)

10:09 AM

 
Blogger Laura said...

Ah! Another tough cookie. Your perfume choice maybe should have been Bandit or something noirish. Thank you for another great post, M!

12:53 PM

 
Blogger Bela said...

Colette (one of my favourite writers) knew her a little: they were both invited to dance at a charity do, I think. She knew straightaway Mata-Hari was a fraud and as exotic as a prune. She wrote about her in one of her books.

Mata-Hari probably wasn't that dangerous, but in times of war, you know... And 1917 was a terrible year for France. I find it difficult to get excited about her: she was a silly woman.

2:44 PM

 
Blogger actonbell said...

oooo, interesting...I'll have to look up more about her, thank you!

5:48 PM

 

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