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The Amorous RestorationLove, Sex, and Politics in Early Nineteenth-Century France$
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Andrew J. Counter

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198785996

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198785996.001.0001

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Olivier in the Closet

Olivier in the Closet

Gossip, Scandal, and the Novel in the 1820s

(p.142) 4 Olivier in the Closet
The Amorous Restoration

Andrew J. Counter

Oxford University Press

In October 1824, Astolphe de Custine was assaulted by a group of guardsmen on a road outside Paris. The motive for the attack soon became an open secret: Custine had propositioned one of the men, but received a corrective drubbing instead. This episode prompted a series of textual responses: gossipy letters between various society ladies and gentlemen, detailing Custine’s humiliation; and the novels of the so-called querelle d’Olivier: Henri de Latouche’s Olivier (1826) and Stendhal’s Armance (1827), plagiaristic parodies of Mme de Duras’s Olivier, ou le secret (c.1821), itself partly a roman-à-clef based on Custine. The scandal that followed Custine’s disgrace and the publication of the Olivier novels reveals the central role of gossip in Restoration society. Yet what makes the novels important is the associations they make between sexuality and the secret; together, the novels suggest that sexuality itself is a sort of universal closet.

Keywords:   Astolphe de Custine, Henri de Latouche, Stendhal, Claire de Duras, gossip, the closet, scandal

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