Date of Award

1988

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

French Studies

First Advisor

Jefferson Humphries

Abstract

The "sadomasochistic homotext" is a text in which sadomasochism, homosexuality, the place of the father, and the perversion of language intersect. In the sadomasochistic homotext, a rebellious group seeks to usurp the authority of the father, through the perversion of language. Perversion, however, is constituted in language, and etymologies reveals that terms for homosexuality were created in the late Middle Ages and mid-nineteenth centuries. Medieval thought links homosexuality with heresy; the nineteenth century labels it "illness.". Plato's Aristophanes states that original humans were cut in half, and each half seeks the other. This division caused a disruption of language as well. Freud refers back to this myth, suggesting an original bisexuality. Homosexuality and matriarchy represent a challange to the law of the Father. The noblemen of the Chateau de Silling and the personages of the Boudoir act as the rebellious primal horde, revolting against the Father's law. But Sadian characters do not seek to overthrow the Father's law: they aspire to his place. Sade sets himself up as an author(ity) by the act of writing. Vautrin sets himself up as "Father" to Rastignac and Lucien; his entourage is a manifestation of the primal horde. Vautrin and Goriot reveal the subtly sexual nature of paternity. Vautrin ultimately becomes a policeman, revealing the complementary nature of good and evil in the text. Criminals have their own inverted language, and the true perversion of the text is the perversion of the Word. Marcel, the narrator of A la recherche du temps perdu, has a voyeuristic relationship with homosexuality. Homosexuality is presented in an ambivalent manner. On the one hand, homosexuals represent a separate race, a third sex. But by the end of the novel, almost everyone is suspected of homosexual tendencies. Inversion is a linguistic as well as a social phenomenon. The sadomasochistic homotext functions in both a reactionary and radical way. It is radical because it is a reaction against the arbitrary nature of the system and its arbitrariness, a reaction to the system, and a necessary part of that system.

Pages

219

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