Maxime Foerster examines the “heterosexual trouble” between men and women in nineteenth-century French Romantic and Decadent literature. Key works by authors ranging from George Sand to Charles Baudelaire persistently demonstrate that heterosexuality did not work: these authors, and many others, investigated the struggle that men and women alike waged against patriarchal norms. Whereas Romantic fiction dedicated itself to the reinvention of love, Decadence promoted sexual and gender deviance.
In expertly evaluating the discord afflicting fictional heterosexual couples, male and female dandies, and doctors and their female patients, Foerster shows the crucial role that literature played in the fashioning of alternative identities. A concluding look at Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu traces the legacy of heterosexual trouble in the twentieth century.
Hardcover is un-jacketed.
"The introduction, 'The Trouble with Being Straight in Nineteenth-Century French Literature,' is a tour de force, a thorough survey of gender theorists--French, American, and otherwise--from Freud forward, including Foucault, Rich, Wittig, Butler, Bourdieu, and Beauvoir. . . . Essential."—CHOICE
"What is queer about the nineteenth-century French novel? Quite a bit, according to Foerster’s revealing new study. The author finds queerness and heterosexual trouble in the ‘refinement of perversions’ typical of late-century Decadence but also in the various challenges to gender and sexual norms in early Romantic novels. The book gives us new words for what today’s readers might find modern about the nineteenth century."—Margaret Waller, Pomona College