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Napoleonic Friendship
Military Fraternity, Intimacy, and Sexuality in Nineteenth-Century France
Brian Joseph Martin

Becoming Modern: New Nineteenth-Century Studies

New Hampshire
2011 • 400 pp. 6 1/8 x 9 1/4"
Gay Studies / British & European History / Literary Criticism - French / LGBT Studies

$40.00 Paperback, 978-1-58465-956-3
$37.99 Ebook, 978-1-58465-944-0

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

“The postmodern military history that Foucault never wrote.”—H-France Review

The first book-length study of the origin of queer soldiers in modern France

One of the first books on “Gays in the Military” published following the historic repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” in 2011, Napoleonic Friendship examines the history of male intimacy in the French military, from Napoleon to the First World War. Echoing the historical record of gay soldiers in the United States, Napoleonic Friendship is the first book-length study on the origin of queer soldiers in modern France. Based on extensive archival research in France, the book traces the development of affectionate friendships in the French Army from 1789 to 1916. Following the French Revolution, radical military reforms created conditions for new physical and emotional intimacy between soldiers, establishing a model of fraternal affection during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars that would persist amid the ravages of the Franco-Prussian War and World War I. Through readings of Napoleonic military memoirs (and other non-fiction archival material) and French military fiction (from Hugo and Balzac to Zola and Proust), Martin examines a broad range of emotional and erotic relationships, from combat buddies to soldier lovers. He argues that the French Revolution’s emphasis on military fraternity evolved into an unprecedented sense of camaraderie in the armies of Napoleon. For many soldiers, the hardships of combat led to intimate friendships. For some, the homosociality of military life inspired mutual affection, lifelong commitment, and homoerotic desire.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“A seminal text in understanding the cultural production of masculinity and homosocial relations…a protestatory gesture against the silencing of gays in the military.” —South Central Review

“A work of solid historiography and level-headed literary analysis. . . a well-documented historian’s presentation of how Napoleon. . . radically changed. . . the relationship between soldiers.” —Gay and Lesbian Review

“One of the few academic books where the author’s prologue is a genuinely moving testimony and explains much of the passion of what follows.” —French History

“[A] solid contribution to military and literary history. . . . At a time when Americans are changing their attitudes and policies toward gays openly serving in the military, this book offers a valuable overview of the French system, which has been less punitive to gays than our own.”Nineteenth-Century French Studies

“Brian Joseph Martin’s
Napoleonic Friendship is a provocative book. Original and challenging, if not convincing on all points, it forces readers to take a new look at the very male world of life in the Napoleonic armies and, for its veterans, life after their military service. Though historically grounded in the world that emerged from the French Revolution, it has implications for both the historical study of other militaries and political debates today.”—H-War

Much of Martin’s analysis, and especially his deconstruction of tender relations between men, which challenge traditional notions about male homoerotic relations, especially in a military setting as essentially sexual rather than affectionate, is fascinating.”—The Historian

“This book suggests a revolution in how we frame our discussion of intimacy. The field of queer studies has often stressed that, historically, men were more likely to realize their same-sex longings than women, but did so through anonymous casual encounters, often at the expense of actual intimacy and enduring relationships. Martin turns that paradigm on its head, and argues that men did indeed find enduring forms of intimacy through the shared trial and experiences of membership in the military. He brings to the surface a narrative that has just been waiting to be given voice.”—Melanie Hawthorne, Texas A & M University

“This eye-opening study fills a significant lacuna in our understanding of nineteenth-century French literature and the history of relations among men. Ambitious in scope, Napoleonic Friendship explores the intense, intimate male friendships fostered by military reforms from the revolutionary period to World War I. Informed by queer theory and masculinity studies, Martin’s analysis of the memoirs of military men and of the novels and lives of Balzac, Stendhal, Hugo, Zola and Proust deftly avoids the temptations of anachronism. His fresh and often moving account evokes a patriarchal world without women where homosociality, and sometimes homosexuality, were both desirable and necessary.”—Margaret Waller, Pomona College

A remarkable contribution to historical, literary, military, and queer studies.American Historical Association’s Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History


Winner of the Laurence Wylie Prize in French Cultural Studies
Nominated for the Lambda Literary Prize in LGBT Studies

BRIAN JOSEPH MARTIN is Associate Professor of French and Comparative Literature, and Chair of the Department of Romance Languages at Williams College.

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 11:58:51 -0500