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The Politics of Love
Queer Heterosexuality in Nineteenth-Century French Literature
Maxime Foerster

Becoming Modern: New Nineteenth-Century Studies

New Hampshire
2018 • 240 pp. 6 x 9"
Literary Criticism - French / Literary Criticism - 19th Century

$45.00 Paperback, 978-1-5126-0170-1
$95.00 Hardcover, 978-1-5126-0169-5

$44.99 Ebook, 978-1-5126-0171-8

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

(Hardcover is un-jacketed.
Cover illustration is for paperback edition only)

Convincingly shows how heterosexual couples as depicted in nineteenth-century French literature challenged traditional norms of both gender and sexuality

What would love be if heterosexual couples were no longer assigned gender and sexual norms?

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.

Reviews / Endorsements

“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

“Firmly grounded in the historical context of a politically tumultuous century, this book studies literature as a site of feminist and queer resistance that works against dominant rhetoric by reinventing heterosexual love outside the confines of heteronormativity.”—Gretchen Schultz, Brown University

“Foerster demonstrates that a range of French Romantic and Decadent novels anticipated current perspectives on sex, sexuality, and gender by deconstructing masculine domination, questioning sexual difference, and resisting heterosexual normalization. The novels confirm that it is seemingly conventional but often tragically dysfunctional heterosexual couples who embody the ‘queering’ of heterosexuality. This clear, cogent, and original book deserves the widest possible readership.”—Owen Heathcote, author of From Bad Boys to New Men ? Masculinity, Sexuality and Violence in the Work of Éric Jourdan

MAXIME FOERSTER is an assistant professor of French in the Department of World Languages and Literatures at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Tue, 15 May 2018 13:57:07 -0500