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Friday, March 19, 2004
Belle de jour unmasked?

The Guardian's recent blog competition produced, according to those filthy pinkos, a winner who stood head and shoulders above the rest or, as the paper put it: 'She is in a league by herself as a blogger.'

Among the literati, there has been considerable speculation about who this extraordinary writer could be. And for non-bloggers or for those not devoted to the work of Buñuel and the actress Catherine Deneuve, Belle de jour was the title of a 1967 film. It is the story of Séverine, who is frigid with her husband but uninhibited in her fantasies. The film is described by The Illustrated History of the Cinema as ' ... the brilliant comedy of a woman's sexual fantasies...' This could - I venture to suggest - have alerted us to the possibility of a send-up (shall we say?).

An article in today's Times (read it in full here. Registration required.) deduces that Belle de jour - our mystery 'concubine' - is, in reality, Sarah Champion. Research by Don Foster, the author who used similar methods to identify the ‘auteur’ of Primary Colors (Joe Klein), led to this remarkable and - dare I say it - not quite accurate conclusion. "Blow me down," as I said to myself, thoroughly idiomatically, when I came across this report of his latest exposé:
[Foster] assembled as much material on her as he could, from a number of book reviews and websites. From this, he revealed that both Belle and Ms Champion
Have a tendency to switch between single quotes for single words and double quotes for conversation;

Frequently use brackets where not strictly necessary;

Use space, hyphen, space, where other writers might use a longer dash without spaces;

Use an organisation’s name as a collective noun taking a plural verb, as in “Time Out have done [an] impressive job”;

Use italics in an unconventional and similar manner.
Mr Foster's powers of deduction do him credit but I can't help feeling that his detective work is somewhat incomplete. Could it be that there is another erudite candidate with a vivid imagination capable of such an entertainment? Perhaps 'she' is a 'he', even...

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