'Le Sourire'


a Parisian Humor Magazine

The cover page of a 1918 issue.

from a 1919 issue : a poilu returns home


'Le Sourire' was one of the many light-hearted Parisian magazines featuring 'racy' drawings of semi-clad mademoiselles, as well as stories and jokes of a similar nature. Paterned after the succesful 'la Vie Parisienne', 'le Sourire' and other similar magazines all followed the same recipe. Such magazines were enormously popular both before, after and during the Great War and quite innocent when all was said and done, despite the reputation they enjoyed abroad. Straight-laced Anglo-Saxons and Americans especially thought such publications the ultimate in perdition and impending moral ruination and warned against their acquisition. Usually to little avail one hopes.

Generally speaking, magazines such as 'le Sourire' tried to keep war-related subjects at a distance, though as good french patriotic publications they knew where their duty lay. One of the more important services such magazines provided however was the placement of personal announcements in which soldiers of all nationalities, could request 'adoption' by a 'marraine' or godmother. These (hopefully) attractive, light-hearted, gay and sensitive ladies would then enter into correspondence with their adoptive 'godsons', sending letters of good-cheer and heart-warming sentiment to bolster the lonely soldiers' morale at the front. And when soldiers were allowed on leave, there was always the hope that something more profound might blossom from a war-time correspondance.



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